Every year, October 11th marks World Obesity Day—a day to raise awareness for the treatment options and action plans for individuals struggling with obesity. As stated before in previous blogs, obesity is a disease that is quickly becoming the largest health epidemic in the world. With more than 28% of the world population estimated to be obese, it is critical we start educating the public and other physicians about this disease of obesity. This year, World Obesity Day is focused on weight stigma.
It is no surprise that there is a stigma surrounding the topic of obesity as it relates to the behavior toward overweight individuals. Generally speaking, there is an ignorant understanding of the disease of obesity where many people believe obesity is a direct result of uncontrollable eating habits.
Although eating in excess of what is burned is the case for most individuals who experience obesity, there is also a significant number of patients that deal with environmental, physical, or emotional stressors that cause them to gain and hold on to weight.
Obesity in the Media
What the media and even some healthcare professionals fail to depict is that obesity is not a lifestyle choice, yet is it a result of some biological dysfunction. There is a reduced tolerance for the treatment of obesity (i.e. weight loss surgery), because there is a general perception that excessive weight gain needs to be prevented not treated.
The general ideology that weight gain starts with bad eating habits and ultimately cannot be reversed from just surgery is far from the truth.
Yes, eating habits will have to change in the long run if patients want to lose weight and keep it off, however, the main purpose of weight loss surgery is as a treatment for the gut—similar to how knee replacement surgery is performed when patients have osteoarthritis.
This is Not an Excuse for Obesity
Now, don't get confused—I am NOT saying it is okay to eat excessively and a live a stagnant life, to a point of diminished health, because you struggle with depression or have suffered from PCOS. On the contrary, I am providing a basis for all to know that obesity is a disease and must be treated as such.
So, take away this negative perception given by the media, your community, your peers, your physician, and even yourself. Take the time to educate yourself about some probable causes, treatment options, and harmful effects of obesity. And together, we will work to end obesity and end the weight stigma!
Image was taken from WorldObesityDay.org