In the July 25 Wednesday Journal, you published a viewpoint titled, “$10K to lose weight? Come On!” in which Rada Ivanov, M.D., stated, “Being overweight comes from poor lifestyle choices and simply eating too much of the wrong foods and lying on the couch instead of being active.” The editorial blamed the parent, advocated for redirecting the funds to needy African villages or the medically indigent, proclaimed that “all you have to do to lose weight is eat right and exercise, completely free,” and questioned whether the message of the article titled, “Raising funds to lose weight,” was “that every overweight person should raise $10,000 for some fancy camp because they cannot do it themselves.”
After sitting in stunned silence for a few minutes, my mouth agape with incredulity, I decided to write because the doctor’s sweeping statements were too broad, did not adequately address the underlying issues, and unfortunately tended toward the same public humiliation and judgmental attitudes the young lady regularly faces.
While it is true that motivation, lifestyle and food choices, and caloric intake are primary factors in dieting, obesity can result from additional factors such as hypothyroidism, depression, medications, and the inability to burn off excessive calories due to incapacitation. There are even additional social factors that come into play, such as inadequate household finances resulting in the purchase of low-cost and high-fat groceries, no or inadequate access to positive resources, inadequate coping mechanisms, family and community dysfunction (such as prevalent violence), and a lack of knowledge. Many of these issues were not adequately addressed in the original article or Dr. Ivanov’s editorial. There wasn’t even a listing of other available resources.
I applaud the young lady for taking the initiative to seek outside resources to address her concerns. She is choosing to no longer be a victim. It is up to each individual to decide whether they will support her endeavor.
Oak Park and River Forest have many resources available to its residents. Personally, I would prefer to see some of those resources pooled to adequately and pro-actively address the many issues associated with childhood and adult obesity. Such a resource could even be replicated or offered to residents of other communities at affordable rates through such things as volunteer staffing (doctors and parents included) and material donations.