Bariatric Surgery

Why We Need to End the Stigma Surrounding Obesity

May 28, 2019

Obesity is a common, complex, chronic metabolic disease, yet there is a dangerous stigma around the disease that prevents many people from seeking help. It’s time to end the stigma.

The obesity epidemic has reached an all-time high, as nearly 40 percent of adults and 19 percent of youth in America are obese. Nearly 70 percent of Americans are considered overweight, and more than two billion people who are overweight suffer from weight-related health problems, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Obesity is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and is responsible for more than 500,000 deaths each year. Why is carrying around excess weight so dangerous for your health?

The longer an individual is obese, the greater his or her risk of developing weight-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and even certain types of cancer. Obesity also leads to diminished quality of life and can lead to early death. Depending on the severity of the disease, obesity could shave 10 years off your life.

Obesity is also costly. The estimated medical cost of obesity in the United States is approximately $147 billion per year. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), individuals with obesity have 42 percent higher healthcare costs than people of normal weight; for people with severe obesity, that number jumps to 81 percent.

The good news is that obesity is treatable, and it should not be ignored. Bariatric surgery (also known as weight loss surgery) is the “standard of care” for treating obesity. Yet, the ASMBS estimates less than one percent of the 24 million U.S. adults who may qualify for a bariatric surgery have the procedure each year. Why is this number is so low?

There is a stigma around obesity and seeking help to control weight. Much like mental health, we need to break down the stigma. Going to a counselor or therapist when you are feeling sad or overwhelmed should be as normal as going to the doctor when you have the flu. Going to see a weight loss expert should be the same mentality. It’s OK to not be OK. It’s perfectly normal to struggle with your weight and need the help of an expert. And it’s better to go get some assistance now rather than wait until it’s a real health problem.

It is important for you to know that obesity is no longer considered a lifestyle choice or simply the result of a lack of will power. The American Medical Association (A.M.A.), World Health Organization (W.H.O.), along with many medical societies now recognize obesity as a chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and strong genetic factors.

If you struggle with your weight, there are viable surgical and non-surgical options worth exploring. It’s time to be proactive with your health and take preventative measures. Put a solid eating plan in place to prevent weight gain and live an active lifestyle. Keeping track of your food intake and activity level will help you examine your lifestyle and stay accountable.

If you are among the nearly 40 percent of Americans who are struggling with obesity, and your weight cannot be controlled by diet and exercise alone, I encourage you to seek help the help of an expert. You can do something about it, and you should do something about it before it’s too late.

Contact us today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a Nicholson Clinic doctor to help you make the best decision based on your individual needs. Make yourself a priority. You are important. Your health is important. Don’t be afraid to reach out. We want to help you get healthy!