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Circus Fat Man Not So Shocking Today

The folks over at Modeled Behavior have presented an interesting, if not profound, point about obesity in modern society, and how perception of obesity has changed over the last 100 years.

At the turn of the 20th century, Chauncey Morlan traveled in a circus sideshow as a “freak.” Referred to as the “Human Freight Car,” people came from all around (and paid money) to see him. You see, Chauncey’s obesity was considered a spectacle at the time. But today, we see people like him on a regular basis.

Morlan passed away at 43 years old of Bright’s disease, a term for kidney disease that is no longer used.

In this picture, he doesn’t look that shocking by today’s standards. That’s not to say that we totally accept obesity as okay, but most people would certainly not look at him as a spectacle to pay money to see.

While his appearance may not shock us, to be fair, it is said that he weighed north of 500 pounds when he was 18 years old. Even by today’s standards, that is shocking!

Regardless, the point is that there may be a bit of complacency today, since this sort of obesity is sadly not uncommon.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are 25 pounds heavier today than we were in 1960. We are on a crash course with national bankruptcy if our diets don’t change. Healthcare costs will continue to skyrocket, an inevitability if the obesity trend continues. Even if we don’t perceive ourselves as sideshow freaks.

April 29th, 2010

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