Now, I know I am not the only one that this bothers...
Journalist decides to write a piece on ___________(choose one: exercise, food packaging, smoking, heart disease, diabetes, sugar, big junk, employee productivity, evolution, the upcoming holiday I could go on and on here)
Journalist is at a loss as to why exactly what they are writing about is important to anyone
Journalist consciously or subconciously decides that ________ (choose one: marketing, capitalism, hospital management, industry profitability, archaeology, again, I could go on and on here) is not an attention grabbing/important enough reason to write an article
Journalist regurgitates commonly quoted demographic stats on the increase in obesity over the past 30 years
Blammo!! Tada! It's important!
In a best case scenario, the author tries to link the obesity stats to the topic of the article in a meaningful way (like this or this one that does a fairly disturbing job of it). In a worst case, the stats are just pasted in at the end with some random sentence about the "problem" being here to stay (like this one).
Oh, and don't forget the requisite photo of a headless, "anonymous" obese person spilling over a chair to emphasize your point (like here, here, or this one that doesn't even bother with making it a human...).
It's not really suprising that these vague literary connections have started sinking into our psyches, "proving" to us that obesity is positively correlated with dozens of other business, individual, and societal concerns.
I bet right now you're going, "Well, doesn't it?". Not necessarily. And I think it's high time that people started reading articles like this with a fair amount of skepticism. For one thing, the more they go unchallenged, the more stigma builds around obesity (as if there wasn't already enough!). Not only do obese individuals do harm to themselves but, look!, they are seriously hurting society at large, too! Everyone knows. It's just common knowledge. They need to get their act together. I'm not paying for their poor choices. And so on. For another thing, this seriously conflates an already complex issue, making it something that policy makers wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. No one wants to build a platform on such shaky ground.
So get critical people. Most articles offer comment options at the bottom. An intelligent, insightful note might make people think twice (here's hoping anyway...). It would also provide a nice break from the unending fat-shaming that usually takes over these comment threads....