Fat Water

The West Virginia Manufacturers Association is successfully lobbying the state legislature with false claims that because the state’s population weighs in as the heaviest in the nation, the people can handle a greater chemical burden of pollution in their drinking water.

This same group also claims that since West Virginians drink less water than the rest of the nation they are less likely to suffer from exposure related illnesses.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, while scientists the world over shake their heads in disbelief, the rest of us are left to reconcile the reality with those ridiculous statements.

While I would be the first to argue that Appalachians are a hearty lot, the notion that fat people do not require (or deserve) protections against polluted drinking water is absurd for several reasons.

National rankings show West Virginia as the state with the highest rate of obesity. More than 38 percent of the state’s adults are considered more than a little overweight and there is a very real link between pollution and obesity, though not as defined by the conniving corporate lobby.

That polluted water might be making you fat.

The fact is that West Virginians are constantly exposed to industrial pollutants that alter body chemistry in such a way as to make people heavier – while also making it more difficult for them to lose weight. Think about what a cycle of despair that is for people who suffer from the social crime of being bigger.

Science shows us that heavier people are likely to carry a heavier body burden of C8 – and other contaminants. Fat cells store pollutants. And, specifically, C8 or PFOA, the Teflon toxin, binds to fat. It is also an endocrine disruptor – meaning that it influences the body’s chemical functions.

Consider, too, that at the heart of every solid weight-loss plan is an essential intake of water – in this case the very thing that may be contributing to our heaviness.

Hence, we have a big, fat,vicious circle for those living the plague of pollution in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

It is a very difficult thing to lose weight under the best of circumstances. The challenge grows with every passing year and with every added pound. That does not mean it’s not a worthwhile endeavor for those who choose to healthfully take it on. But, those who are fighting this battle in the Mid-Ohio Valley have quite a lot stacked against them. All would do well to acknowledge how very hard it is to shed pounds – and to celebrate those who have met the challenge with success. However, that does not mean that those who are perpetually challenged are somehow less than – or less deserving of environmental protections.

Further, let’s not pretend that this notion wasn’t presented with open disdain for the fat community.

We as a society have come so far in tolerating individuals of different skin tones and sexual orientations, yet it is still largely acceptable to make fun of – or to ostracize or to shame – fat people. This is discrimination, plain and simple, and it should not be called anything else.

About Callie J Lyons

Callie Lyons is an investigative journalist and author living in the Mid Ohio Valley. Her first book, Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8, is available at Amazon.com and in hundreds of libraries all over the world. Known as a "warrior for public health", Lyons' environmental investigations have been featured in documentaries, including Good Neighbors - Bad Blood and Toxic Soup, on Swedish National Television and in numbers of television, radio and print media interviews. Her work has appeared on Nova's Whiz Kids and in Mother Jones magazine. More recently, a national audience has come to know her award-winning investigative work through the Environmental Working Group and interviews with leading publications like the Huffington Post and The Intercept. Lyons' work was featured in the 2017 documentary Parched:Toxic Waters by National Geographic. The Short, Fantastic Life of a Saloon Girl is Lyons' first published work of historical fiction.
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