I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about obesity and its status as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Everyday Eyecandy.
According to my last doctor, I am obese.
At the time, when she told me, with a straight face and in a no-nonsense voice, I wanted to break down crying.
I mean, yes, I knew that I had gained more pounds than was healthy on my small frame ( I'm only 5'3 ). What I did not expect was to be basically prosecuted by my doctor. And told that there was no reason for me to have “all this weight ” on me. My then physician proceeded to point out and list the many reasons why I needed to lose weight. Her parting thought to me was that losing weight was I all a matter of willpower. She did not give any resources or suggestions on how to lose weight, just rattled off all the tests that I now needed because I was obese.
So I tucked in my shame and didn't go back to see a doctor for over 18 months.
But I care about my health so…
I switched physicians.
My new physician pointed out to me that OBESITY, a chronic disease, could lead to a variety of other diseases given my family history.
She sat down and asked me about my personal life, my work life, and even gave me a few resources and ideas on where to start. She helped me to set goals and we looked at ways that would help me get healthier. She also suggested a lot of smaller changes that I could start and sustain long term.
It's slow going, but last month, I lost 5 pounds and 8 1/2 inches. When I checked in for an update, she not only celebrated with me, she gave me another realistic goal and said she would be eagerly waiting for an update.
I left my physician's office that day empowered by encouragement and small success.
People first language for obesity.
I recently decided to collaborate with Med-IQ,a continuing medical education company, to help to generate awareness around obesity and its status as a chronic disease. I am proof that the way obesity is presented, can have a lasting impact on the patient.
I sat in on a meeting with Donna Ryan, MD: President, World Obesity Federation; and Patricia Nece, JD, Chair of the Weight Bias Task Force for the Obesity Action Coalition. What became abundantly clear during this meeting is that we have to change the way we talk and think about obesity. And change the way we speak to each other about it.
Obesity is a chronic condition defined as excessive fat accumulation that may harm a person's health. It is a chronic disease and has nothing to do with a lack of effort or willpower.
People develop obesity because of existing genetic risk factors in their DNA in response to environmental, cultural or behavioral factors. These factors include things like
- lack of sleep
- certain medications
- and eating energy dense/nutrient-poor foods.
People-first language has been widely adopted for most chronic diseases and disabilities, but not obesity. Increasingly, it has become the norm for people with conditions such as autism, diabetes, or asthma to be described as people first, and not defined by their condition.
As with me, referring to individuals as “obese” has been shown to influence how individuals feel about their condition and makes them less likely to seek medical care. Luckily, I found a doctor who recognizes that a positive and supportive healthcare provider is important for successful weight management for patients with obesity. And that successful weight management is an individual path for each person.
Now that I have the tools and a doctor who understands…
I am making those small changes one step at a time. I started small, and I'm focusing on first losing 5% of my body weight. Then 10%! I'm working on not just changing my mindset, but my mindset and making changes in my lifestyle that will be sustainable. I'm focusing on my health instead of just the number on the scale. Because I want to be healthy for my child and my husband. And for me.
If you want to learn more and be entered to win1 of 10 $50 VISA gift cards, CLICK HERE to participate in a survey. The survey will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are anonymous and will be shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide us with important information about your experiences with obesity and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives for healthcare providers to improve care.
Once you've completed the survey, you will be asked to provide your email address if you’d like to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $50 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.
So what do you think? Do you think changing how we talk about Obesity can encourage people to be more proactive about their health?
The information provided through this activity is for continuing education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient’s medical condition.