Effect of Weight Bias on Bariatric Surgery Success, “I Think, Therefore I Am.”

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
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    “I Think, Therefore I Am.”

    Effect of Weight Bias on Bariatric Surgery Success

    One way to better promote the possibility for success is to minimize the possibility of failure. Having read this far, you may have come to the conclusion that the obvious cannot escape me and that I am a Sherlock Holmes who discovers only what everyone else already knows. I don't blame you.


    Still in all, there is something of an X-factor when it comes to success. There are going to be obstacles to overcome, and there are going to be individuals who are able to undermine us either by design or by unintended interference. Knowing that, let's not partner with our saboteurs. The person sinking the ship shouldn't be the captain.

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    Internalized Weight Bias

    Internalized weight bias is a self-defeating thought process that adversely affects a good number of people who are overweight and can influence the successfulness of weight loss surgery. 


    Weight bias is the product of personal or societal views that people who are overweight are at fault for their condition because they lack the willpower and discipline needed to lose weight. People who have negative feelings about their weight also are more likely to be depressed and lack self-esteem.   


    A study from the Geisinger Health System measured the degree that subjects internalized weight bias by creating negative personal attributes because of these biases. They found that as ratings of internalized weight bias increased prior to weight loss surgery, weight loss following surgery decreased twelve-months after the procedure. High levels of internal negative thoughts and feelings were identified in 40% of preoperative subjects. Greater weight bias was also linked with greater depression.    


    The study suggests that pre-operative weight bias screening would be beneficial and provide patients with the opportunity to develop coping strategies such as counseling and peer group support.


    Caregivers Must Care

    Although it is in large degree the responsibility of an individual to self-soothe and find clarity about any personal condition, when that person seeks counsel from professionals it is rightfully expected that such professionals provide the necessary insight and manner to best help those who are reaching out. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. 


    If part of a coping strategy involves interaction with a physician than that physician should present as a model of the profession. Those with internalized weight bias should be aware that this is not always the case and that a physician who harbors negative weight bias will only exacerbate an already challenging set of affairs. 


    Research has shown that some obese patients are reluctant to seek medical advice due to feeling judged or disrespected about their condition. Sadly, they are often accurate in their assumption.


    The problem is prevalent enough that the Rudd Center has made a number of evidence-based training films that address weight bias among health providers and what can be done to help remedy these barriers. These films are used in medical schools nationwide and are required training for health providers and staff in bariatric surgery centers.


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Published On: November 05, 2014