So Disney caught some flak last week over a new Innoventions exhibit at Epcot called Habit Heroes, aimed at teaching kids about childhood obesity and why it’s important even for kids to eat right and get a moderate amount of exercise every day.
Let’s face the facts – it’s a real problem these days, with more than 1/3 of our kids either overweight or obese, rapidly catching up with the adult statistic that over 35% of adults in America are obese.
Of course, it doesn’t help much when we’ve got Congress arbitrarily decreeing pizza to be a vegetable for the purpose of planning school lunches…
Now I get what the, ummm, National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is gunning for here – it’s never nice to make fun of people or discriminate them for anything, but what I do have a problem with is sort of an ulterior motive to their agenda in that their actions here seem to want to halt any efforts to teach kids that being health-conscious is important because in their eyes, anything that depicts fat people in a negative light is demeaning to them … but pray tell, how are you supposed to teach someone that being obese can have devastating results to ones health if you’re not even allowed to show cartoon characters being overweight without worrying about offending anyone???
Frankly, I think this is where I would have to err to the side of “Sorry, but you’re just gonna have to be offended by this then…” because like it or not, obesity is a problem and it’s not one that we can afford to be overly sensitive about in light of actually helping people to not become obese in the first place. And yes, I know that some people are obese for purely medical reasons and that there are entire movements organized about fat pride where those involved simply have no desire to shed a single pound … and for those people who make that decision for themselves, that’s all fine and dandy, but considering that 1 in 4 deaths in America today are due to heart disease, it’s irresponsible for educational efforts like these to be swept under the rug simply because somebody is insecure enough to consider them harassment.
If you’re so accepting of your own obesity, then what do you care what other people even think about it???
Because the problem with sensitivity in such a diverse country as ours is that there’s the potential for people to be offended by just about anything. We have groups of people who think that environmentalism is a waste of time and money, so should we just scrap all of those efforts in the parks because we wouldn’t want to offend anybody who believes that climate change is a farce? We have people who think that no animal should ever be held in captivity, so to appease them we’ve got an awfully big fish tank over in The Seas that might as well be drained. I’ve seen people that pay the money at the gate just so that they can walk around complaining all day about how expensive everything is – should we maybe just scrap the whole thing because a few people feel slighted that they can’t still buy a cheese burger and fries for the same 49-cents that they used to spend at the malt shop down the street after school on Tuesdays?
Disney does a lot to help educate its guests during their stays in Orlando, from promoting energy saving practices at the hotels, switching to biodegradable shopping bags, and even doing a lot to clean up the kids menus in their restaurants the last couple of years, believe it or not. They’ve increasingly cut back on the areas in which smoking is allowed at the parks and resorts, and especially they use the exhibits around Epcot to really share new ideas and get people thinking about better ways to live their lives through technology, ecology and conservation, and imagination and creativity, though one that I’ve really felt has been lacking since they shut down the Wonders of Life pavilion back in 2007 is health and understanding the human body.
Though we say that no one should ever be picked on or discriminated against for the things that they say and do, there has to come a point where overwhelming evidence leads us to ease up on our sensitivity just enough so that we can adequately help the people who will actually still listen to the voice of reason. We run ads and print warnings right on cigarette containers that smoking is bad and causes cancer, we do our best to remind patrons of alcohol that their actions have consequences even when inebriated, and these days even restaurants are becoming more open about the actual caloric contents of what they serve, with some even putting those often cringe-worthy stats right there on the menu to help you make your choices. So in that same vein, what’s the harm in a Disney attraction aimed at teaching kids that sitting around all day doing nothing but watching TV and eating Twinkies can have a negative effect on their long-term health?
Good for you if you’ve opted to cast aside the medical evidence and just blindly embrace your obesity, but let the kids make their own decision regarding the same – it’s their future that’s at stake when you’re shielding them from the truth that the habits they form today are going to be a hell of a lot harder to break when they’re 31 years old and still struggling to work off a gut that has been haunting them for the better part of the last decade…