I’m not sure how to phrase this in terms of thin privilege, but I just have some important information I feel like I need to share.
Before I became a freelance writer, I worked in a hospital. I was a clinical coder. What that means, is that whenever anyone checked out of the hospital, we read their notes, and then assigned numerical codes to designate what their diagnosis was, and what treatments they received. These codes are then reported to the World Health Organization for statistical purposes.
While I was working there (circa 2006) when the “obesity epidemic” panic started, they changed our co-morbidity list. That is, the list of other things - usually chronic disorders - that we mark on the forms (if there’s room) that are wrong with the patient, such as asthma or diabetes or heart disease that may or may not be related to the actual reason they are in the hospital. If an asthmatic breaks their leg, asthma is listed as a co-morbidity, even though it has nothing to do with their broken leg.
They changed the co-morbidity priority list and put obesity near the top. Like, if we only had room for a few co-morbidities, we had to work the list from the top down, and put the top ones first. So if someone came in with a broken leg and they had high blood pressure, a severe mental illness, and an enlarged prostate, and they also happened to be fat, if there was only room for one code on the form, we had to list obesity instead of any of the other problems and if there was room for more than one, obesity had to be listed first.
This is why there is a recent sudden “rise” in obesity related illnesses. There are not more fat people or more diseases related to being fat. It’s just that the people who collect the statistics are now required to report fatness as a priority over actual diseases.
(This was in the UK and the change in the co-morbidity list was a nation-wide change in operating procedure. It is also probably true in the US, though coding there is different and less accurate due to health insurance playing a part in what is coded.)