As a second part to the discussion of obesity now being classified as a disease by the A.M.A., I’d like to weigh in on the discussion from a few different angles.
As a Physician Assistant
With statistics suggesting that almost two thirds of the population is overweight or obese, it is unlikely that a day will pass in the life of a health professional without encountering patients who weigh too much. They may present with other health concerns and ignore their obvious weight issues, which may be complicating their health, or refuse to discuss weight even if the doctor gently suggests the merits of a discussion. Will the designation of obesity as a disease really make these patients now more willing to talk about their weight struggles or the fact that their child is already overweight or obese? I just don’t think so, but time will tell.
As a Health Coach/Nutritionist
Under this professional title you would think that if someone seeks my help, the obesity chat would go so much more easily. Think again….Just the other day, a fellow gym member who has struggled with his weight, reached out to me to discuss (again) the merits of the Paleo diet. He had already had double knee surgery a few years ago, gained and lost 25 pounds (he probably needs to lose 60 or 70 pounds), and was now recovering from spine surgery. He felt I should hear the whole surgical saga before we discussed a possible professional collaboration on his weight. He told the entire story without once mentioning how his weight was complicating his health, his recovery and his quality of life. When I asked him if any of these surgeons had suggested the need to lose weight before or after surgery, he replied, “Sure.” When I pointed out that he never mentioned his weight during the surgical story telling – he just looked at me quizzically. I wonder - am I really going to be able to help this guy???
As a person who shed fifty plus pounds over 30 years ago
I am part of the “one percent.” Actually the dismal numbers of individuals who were classified as obese and successfully lost and kept weight off for decades, may be higher, but not by a whole lot. Despite the fact that several generation of women in my family were obese, despite the reality that my home environment was fraught with constant food temptation, despite the fact that my mom taught me to treat emotions with food therapy, despite the fact that I lived in a neighborhood that was not safe for outdoor play (and this was in the 1960s and 1970s in Brooklyn, N.Y.), and despite the fact that there was no doctor intervention, I was able to use a commercial diet plan and lose more than fifty pounds at age sixteen and stay within a five pound range of that weight for over three decades. Why was I successful despite my limited nutrition education and very limited financial resources?