I don’t want to be accused of “fat shaming” (and anyone who knows me knows that I have more than a few extra pounds to shed myself) but the number of obese people on scooters at Disney just blew my mind.
A few times I was questioned about these people by my youngest. He would see someone riding around the park who would then pop-up off their scooter and jump onto a ride with no sign of disability. Being generous of spirit, I would explain how some people were okay to walk short distances but that they may have something wrong with them that might make it too hard to walk further. They may have a disability that we couldn’t see.
After about the third time explaining this, I took some time to break it down in my head. Here are my thoughts…
I’m going to overestimate and randomly say that perhaps 1 out of 3 of these people on scooters actually had a mechanical back or leg issue that had no relationship to weight, but that might make it hard to traverse a theme park by foot.
So why were the other 2 out of 3 people on a scooter? Because they were fat. I’m not saying that they weren’t disabled… just the opposite in fact. The majority of the people scooting around Disney were disabled by their obesity. Yes, I’m sure it would be hard to walk around the park all day when you are carrying (at least) a hundred and fifty extra pounds. Hell ya, you bet your legs and back would be killing you.
I really believe that these people actually needed to be riding around on scooters.
So why am I even writing about this? I know this is not new… I know I’m just coming in with innocent Canadian eyes… but the sheer number of scooters (they almost outnumbered the strollers) just blew my mind. I was shocked to realize that this proportion of the population has disabled themselves with obesity. Is Disney a fair random sample so that I can extrapolate this across the US? I don’t know and I’ll admit that I’m a little scared to think about it.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a quick-rich investment opportunity, I suggest looking into Orlando area scooter rentals. Business is bursting at the seams!
I found out that you don’t have to have a disability to rent a scooter. Many people just like to use the scooters at Disney. ( I found this interesting) Also, when you said that people caused their own disability by becoming obese, it hit a tender spot inside of me. Perhaps, because I am facing my own binge eating disorder and realizing weight issues often start from an emotional place. I have tried many times to lose weight, thinking things like, “this weight problem is all my fault.” Then, getting caught up in a cycle I could not seem to get out of. However, I had to address what was really going on. I think you bring up an interesting point and it is something to think about. Health issues related to obesity are challenging. However, I think we need to look at treating the root cause. Also, I think your blog is amazing and that you are very brave for sharing your story! I just wanted to comment on this topic.
I’m totally with you on the binge/emotional eating thing. My weight is a constant struggle for me and am currently at my heaviest (including my pregnancies!)
Health has been my number one reason for fighting back the weight gain over the years and Disney just served to reinforce that for me. I don’t want to be unhealthy and immobile.
Good luck fighting the emotional/mental eating cycle. Over the years I’ve found that I need to get myself mentally fit before I can be successful at getting physically fit (hence my heavy weight currently). Now that I’ve begun to sort out my head properly, I’ve begun to lose weight. The urge to binge, while still there, just isn’t as strong.
And thank you for your kind words. I’ve received so much positive feedback about telling my story, I have no doubt it was the right decision. 🙂
Yes, this is absolutely true about getting one’s head a certain way in order to find a healthy weight. Congrats on realizing this. I think emotional eating is something so many people struggle with. In some regard, emotional eating is natural, but obviously if it takes over one’s life it is a different story. I am all about empowering people to take charge of their health. However, for some people Binge Eating is a disorder, and people may need support and help. To blame them for this is like blaming someone for having any other illness, be it mental or physical. On the other hand, not all overweight people are unhealthy and not all over weight people have binge eating disorder. Just like, not all binge eaters are overweight. People come in all shapes and sizes, and it seems as if we have stigmatized people that do not meet a certain body size expectation. I am passionate about spreading this word since I have faced shameful feelings about my weight for awhile I know how it feels. However, within any illness, is the ability to take charge of one’s health and seek opportunities to heal. Someone’s the topping point is really about having the support to make the changes. This support is what I have found has made all the difference for me.
Absolutely telling your story was the right decision. Thank you for your comment back!
In fairness, I know EVERY family wants to go to Disneyland, but you can be sure that ALL the people who continually spoil themselves are there at some point so that probably skews the stats a bit. But only a bit. It’s a problem. Apparently in the western world (I’m over in Ireland, where even our recession isn’t keeping the kids thin), this is the first generation that is expected to have a lower lifespan than their parents. Now that’s partly down to the parents’ generation having hit a peak of health and wealth in society in general, but it’s also down to the prevalence of obesity in the kids of this generation. And just to pee them off even more, they’re also the first generation expected to earn less than their parents. When they discover that they’ll probably even increase the comfort-eating! Keep your lads skiing and off the scooters and they’ll be fine (though I’d feel a total hypocrite denying them the joy of the occasional stack of pancakes in your skiing blog cos it did make me do a Homer ‘Mmmmmmm’ noise).
I think my boys are in no danger of becoming obese… No matter how many stacks of pancakes I give them (which is quite a few actually). My boys never stop moving and didn’t complain a bit during all of the Disney walking – a lot of older children were being pushed around in strollers.
I worry that Disney may indeed be a fair representation because the poorest people in America (those who can’t afford the indulgence) are statistically more overweight than the middle and upper class.
As you have intimated about Ireland, and in Canada it is the same, it is cheaper to eat unhealthy than healthy. Pop is cheaper than milk, processed food cheaper than lean cuts of meat, candy is cheaper than fruit, etc…
I’m confident my kids are going to be okay because I have the means, and inclination, to make it so. Not everyone is in the same situation.
Thanks for the great comment!
This isn’t fat-shaming. There has to be a space to talk about obesity as a health issue which is separate from talking about it in relation to the media, bullying, and self-love. One is (and should be!) emotional and personal, the other is just hard facts.
You’re right. It is such an important health issue and people are scared to talk about it. I used to work in diabetes care and I would see patients who were so upset when they were told that they needed to lose weight. Not talking about it isn’t helping anyone. Thanks for the great comment.
Great! More than anything else about going to Florida and visiting these theme parks, the idea of all of these obese people is making me really not want to go. Thanks!
I think the picture that accompanies this entry — which is from one of my fav movies, Wall-E — is spot on. I hope this is not the future, but I fear it is, and PBS just confirmed it (well, kind of); http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/measuring-weight-world/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=pbsofficial&utm_campaign=newshour
I honestly worry about this issue in the future in different ways, and one of them is economically — who is going to pay for all of the medical conditions associated with obesity? Us, and then our kids.
I was worried that going to Florida would not be educational for my 8 year old but, perhaps If nothing else, it will be a learning experience of another kind (of what NOT to do).
You might not see it as much if you are not doing Disney. Because Universal is more about thrill rides (and you need to fit into the seats) there were far fewer obese people and nary a scooter to be seen – at least when we were there.
And you’re right about the picture being spot on… especially when you see the scooter people all drinking from huge refillable cups at all times of the day!
Speaking from the perspective of almost being taken out by one of those scooters, my last Disney visit may have been anything but magical. Steven and I have often been awed by the sheer number of scooters at Disney and most other theme parks we’ve visited in the States. (I’m sure Canada’s Wonderland could also be included in it’s crazy high number of scooters not for the elderly or infirmed but for the obese.). At times, I entertained the thought that perhaps the scooters are simply for those wishing to skip the lines but realistically all I had to do was look around to see that so many obese people rely on scooters to explore the happiest place on earth. It is definitely a sad epidemic in our North American society. My advice to all future Disney visitors….those diving the scooters believe they have the right of way at all times so watch out for small children and your ankles!
Yikes – i can’t imagine being hit by one of those things. That was actually my biggest worry (and peeve). They were all rental scooters and the drivers were all rookies. I witnessed a lot of 18 point turns!
Thanks for reading. 🙂