Tuesday, December 19, 2006
UK Doc: Plus-size Clothing Should Bear Obesity Warning Label 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Yet another brilliant idea in the War on Obesity, as reported in the BBC:
A leading professor in the U.K. said that obese people should be warned about the health risks of their weight when buying clothes...[Dr.] Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said that oversized clothing should have obesity help line numbers sewn on them to try to reduce Britain's obesity crisis.
The suggestion would be to put the label on all clothes with waist sizes over 37 inches for boys or 31 inches for girls. Women's clothes over size 16 would also get a label. [read full article]
Notice anything unusual about this? There's no mention of warning labels on men's clothing. Why? Does the doctor believe that men would ignore or not take kindly to this sort of thing stenciled inside their trousers, or is the underlying assumption that unlike men, women and children are blissfully unaware of their size and need this sort of "reminder"?

Interestingly, the US version of this story makes no mention of warning labels* for mens' clothing, but one is mentioned in the original BBC article (over 40 in/102 cm).

Another curious thing: UK news outlets haven't picked up this story with anywhere near the frequency US TV news stations have. Maybe because a story like this is the perfect "you won't believe it!" tease for the 11 o'clock news. Then again, I sometimes wonder if the UK and US are in some sort of secret competition to see who can create the nanniest nanny-state.

* Yes, I know some will argue that a precedent exists in warning labels on alcohol, cigarettes, even lottery tickets. I would argue this is different. Plus-size clothing does not cause obesity, nor is it an "addictive consumable" as these other products are. Using this logic, one could advocate for warning labels placed on all highly caloric or fattening foods...or products that induce people to be sedentary, like automobiles, or computers...or perhaps bathroom scales should be required to sound an alarm if the weigh-ee exceeds a specified weight limit. You get the general idea.

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