HEALTH

Obese Redditors Meet With Fans, Not Scrutiny

HEALTH
Mar 11, 2014 at 5:34 PM ET

“Obese/morbidly obese people of Reddit, what does your daily diet normally consist of?”

The query posted yesterday in an AskReddit conversation seems random, until some digging shows it’s the same question posed by a different user nearly a month ago, and very similar to one that yielded these answers last June. In fact, there’s an entire subreddit devoted to the topic. So clearly, Reddit users are cyclically curious about the severely overweight and their lifestyle choices.

But are these redditors who ask their overweight peers about their food intake just schadenfreude-seeking, voyeuristic weirdos? Responses are mixed. Many replies are laden with sad reflections (“I’ve started to become okay with who I am, even though it’s still a huge day-to-day struggle,” said one redditor), or confessions (“I’d go extremely overboard in secret,” said another). Yet the questions, and the dialogue they yield, make for a supportive (albeit anonymous) sort of mentor group.

Questions include “What do you eat?” and “How did you get so large?” And many redditors offer shockingly detailed replies. For example, here’s what breakfast looks like for a few respondents:

  • VoluntaryLiving: “6-10 pancakes with 1/2 cup + of syrup, eggs, bacon or sausage. Big coffee with lots of sugar.”
  • HrHomer: “Maybe a half-bag of tater tots with a half-pound of cheese on them, or maybe a tube of Grands biscuits used to make cheese and liverwurst sandwiches.”
  • Darkashi: “A whole box of cereal with whole milk.”

And lunch:

  • Jeimaiku: “Candy.”
  • Porksandwich9113: “3-4 packs of ramen or 1/4 lb. noodles in some sort of butter/cheese sauce.”
  • Brezzz: “TwoMcChickens and one McDouble, and a coke.”

And dinner:

  • HughMility: “Two foot long hoagies, soda and a pound of chocolate covered pretzels was average.”
  • Beansauce13: “14” pizza from a regional place (Either a deluxe or chicken alfredo) with fried mac ‘n cheese bites with soda and BBQ for the mac’n’cheese bites, or home made mac’n’cheese with beef hot dogs, or 12″ frozen pizza, or stir fry, or meatball sandwich with chips, or dining out at various restaurants (Chilis, Old Chicago, Red Robin) almost always with an appetizer before the meal or fast food (Wendys or Taco Bell).”
  • ForEmbarassingShit: “Entire pint of ice cream, sometimes with candy added.”

In the end, Reddit seems to foster conversations about obesity that other platforms don’t. Most “fattertainment,” the term for television shows and films that center on weight and weight loss, is a one-way dive into a person’s struggle with shedding pounds. And online peer-support communities often don’t attract those who aren’t facing the same weight-loss issues. It’s why taboo questions like, “How did you afford to buy all that food every day?” and “Do you feel your parents contributed to your obesity?” are so common here. And understanding, not judgment, is the goal.