A sociology professor at the University of California, Irvine on Thursday said that the ever-increasing stigma surrounding obesity is connected to racism.
Sabrina Strings, who regularly covers topics related to race and health issues, told CBS News that the medical community's outlook on weight issues originates from the oppression of African-Americans.
"We cannot deny the fact that fat-phobia is rooted in anti-blackness. That's simply a historical reality. Today, when people talk about it, they often claim that they don't intend to be anti-black...," Strings said. "They don't intend all of these negative associations, and yet they exist already. So whenever people start trafficking in fat-phobia, they are inherently picking up on these historical forms of oppression."
Strings also purported that her assessment is not new, claiming it goes as far back as the slave trade.
"With the dawn of the slave trade, skin color was the original sorting mechanism to determine who was slave and who was free. But as you might imagine, with slavery progressing through the century, skin color became a less reliable source of sorting various populations," Strings alleged. "Therefore, they decided to re-articulate racial categories, adding new characteristics, and one of the things that the colonists believed was that black people were inherently more sensuous, that people love sex and they love food, and so the idea was that black people had more venereal diseases, and that black people were inherently obese, because they lack self-control. And of course, self-control and rationality, after the Enlightenment, were characteristics that were deemed integral to whiteness."
In addition, Strings said that white Protestants sought to prove they were "morally upright and racially proper" by eating healthy and staying fit. She argued that Protestants thought "if you did not show temperance, that was evidence that you were one of the savages."