Obesity is a chronic disease that affects over 93 million Americans. It is often misunderstood and stigmatized. Obesity can decrease an individual’s life expectancy by 7-14 years and increases the risk of developing other life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
It’s important to recognize that people with obesity need support rather than judgement or criticism. The stigma around obesity has been proven to have negative effects on physical health outcomes as well as mental health outcomes. It can lead to feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem which can further contribute to unhealthy eating habits or avoidance of physical activity due to fear of judgement.
It’s also important for healthcare providers to recognize the complexity of obesity when treating patients. Rather than placing blame on individuals for their weight, healthcare providers should focus on providing evidence-based treatments such as lifestyle modifications (dietary changes, increased physical activity) or bariatric surgery if necessary. Healthcare providers should also provide emotional support for those suffering from obesity to create a safe space for open dialogue about weight management goals without judgement or criticism.
The first step in dispelling the stigma around obesity is understanding that it’s not a result of personal failure or lack of willpower. The causes of obesity are complex, including environmental factors such as access to healthy food options, socio-economic status, family dynamics, stress levels, genetics, lifestyle choices such as physical activity levels or sedentary behavior, medications, and medical conditions. It’s important to recognize that each person’s experience with obesity is unique, so there is no one size fits all solution.
One way to help combat the stigma around obesity is through Obesity Care Week (OCW2023). OCW2023 is an annual public awareness event supported by over 100 health organizations and leaders in 70 countries around the world. The goal of OCW2023 is to strengthen the relationship between a patient and their healthcare provider by encouraging open, empathetic, and evidence-based conversations about weight and health.
During OCW2023 Champions and Partners stand together to acknowledge obesity as a complex, chronic, recurring disease. Despite extensive research and studies, stigma and misperceptions continue to negatively shape the way people with obesity are treated medically and generally within society. To learn more about Obesity Care Week or sign up for alerts visit: https://www.ObesityCareWeek.org
People suffering from obesity should know that they are not alone; there are many resources available to help them on their journey towards better health. Bariatric surgery has been proven to be a safe and effective solution for curing obesity. Bariatric surgery reduces the size of your stomach, so you feel full faster while eating less food which helps you lose weight quickly over time as well as reduce your risk of developing other health problems associated with obesity such as diabetes or heart disease. If you are considering bariatric surgery, it’s important to speak with your doctor about which procedures are best for you and what potential risks are associated with each procedure before making your final decision.
People suffering from obesity need support rather than judgment or criticism for them to make positive changes in their lives related to their weight loss goals or overall health goals in general. Dispelling the stigma around obesity starts with understanding how complex this condition truly is – both physically and mentally – so we can come together and create healthier communities where everyone feels safe and respected regardless of their body size or shape!