Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fat will kill you with Swine Flu!?!?!

I caught this out of the corner of my ear on NPR and had to look it up to make sure I hadn't missed a massive concussion or fallen asleep at my desk. No, I actually had heard doctors blame a 22 year old kid's death from swine flu on "Obesity and other health problems."

Beginning my trip into 1984, I find this article that manages to sprinkle fat-hysteria throughout with this particular gem as to why they think fat people are more likely to die of the flu:

"Other studies have shown that pregnant women are at higher risk, especially in the third trimester when the fetus and womb compress the lower regions of the lungs. This makes it harder to breathe deeply and cough forcefully; it may also alter blood flow in the chest. A similar thing may occur in severely overweight people, some experts speculated."

Seriously!? All fat people carry crushing belly weight that keeps them from breathing? SERIOUSLY!?

After making my way down the google news feed, it seems every article on the 22 year old from Utah who just died from the flu mentions the potential complications with this or a similar quote:

"Authorities said the man was overweight and had chronic medical conditions, including respiratory problems and other health issues that put him at risk."

So the fact that he was fat is factored more heavily than the fact that he had a chronic respiratory illness?

Are they seriously this ignorant, or just trying to reassure the reading public that Swine Flu is only killing the fatties? Are news feeds so eager to get on the bandwagon that they'll find a way to slip weight into ANYTHING?

*Breaking news, Shark attack linked to victim's obesity....*

This head-banging-on-desk sort of logic. Unfortunately it offers a brand-new-trendy scare tactic for the media to fly. Instead of taking a breath and a pause (or even, I don't know, offering sympathy to the victim's family?) they capitalize on the double fear of flu and fat to grab readers and give them one more lash for non-conformity.

If this was an actual research study I'd give it a CDNEC award. As it is it's going to get the honorary cousin to the CDNEC, known as the "You're a complete dumbass" award.


La di Da said...

Gee, or maybe it could be someting to do with the fact that fat people, especially very fat people, are less likely to go to the doctor because of shitty treatment? So they could have untreated underlying conditions like, oh, ANYTHING, because their stupid doctor told them if they lose weight it will go away. And those underlying conditions make the flu worse.

Or maybe they don't have untreated conditions and are otherwise pretty healthy and they hate going to the doctor for the aforementioned reason so they don't go until the flu is basically pneumonia.

Or maybe they went to the doctor promptly anyway, and the doctor told them "it's just a cold, now go away and lose weight".

Or maybe they have been to a doctor or are in hospital and have antibiotics prescribed for the infection which settled in their lungs, only they're not getting enough because many antibiotics have weight-based dosing and the doctor doesn't know or thinks "ideal weight" is what you base it on (wrong).

You know, any number of things that can go wrong because of the poor treatment of fat people by the health system. But NO! It must be that they are choking on their own fat! OMG CALL DISCOVERY CHANNEL FATTY FREAKSHOW PRODUCER.

(I'm a little testy this morning. :) )

Heidi said...

Could I claim fatness as a good reason to stay home from work - after all, we had a swine flu case in our tower block a couple of weeks back. I'm fat AND asthmatic. I could DIE TODAY!!

Or maybe not.

What a ludicrous claim to make. Mindbogglingly ludicrous.

jaed said...

So the fact that he was fat is factored more heavily than the fact that he had a chronic respiratory illness?Even better: if "chronic respiratory illness" is another way of saying "asthma", there's a not inconsiderable chance that he's had to take steroids to keep the asthma under control, and steroids cause *drumroll* weight gain.

Yes. Admittedly it's a speculative leap, but it is not improbable that the condition for which he's being blamed is the result of treating the condition that actually made him vulnerable to influenza infection in the first place.

Catgal said...

We had a death in the NY metro area as well. A man who was a school principal died from swine flu the headline said, but he was overweight and had chronic health problems that comtirbuted, blah, blah, blah.

The order in which those things are mentioned give the impression that the fat caused the chronic health problems so basically fat = death...

Thanks media!