Despite the increasing rate of obesity, and its 2013 recognition as a disease, obesity continues to carry a negative social stigma that has led, or at least contributed, to inadequate primary care. According to the article, “Dispelling the Myths About Obesity,” more than one-third of healthcare professionals (and mostly primary care physicians) argue that obesity is not a disease.
The lack of agreement among healthcare professionals affects their ability to provide proper care for their patients. Of the participants who responded that obesity is not a disease, 80% of those believe that obesity is a result of poor lifestyle choices. Patients, on the other hand, fail to ask their doctors important questions about their excessive weight, as they are always expecting to hear the same unhelpful solution: diet and exercise.
Obesity, by definition, is a disease in that it weakens body function, is a result from “dysfunction of a complex physiologic regulatory system, precipitated by multiple factors in modern society,” and negatively affects the patient’s quality of life.
Removing the Stigma to Fight the Disease
To better help patients with obesity requires a shift in pre-existing attitudes about what it means to be obese, even overweight, in our society. Stripping the stigma of obesity still leaves patients struggling with their health and lacking the help and support from the medical community. Dispelling myths about obesity may begin to change our opinion of it for the better.
The most common myths that vigorous medical study has disproved include:
- Obesity is a self-inflicted medical condition.
- To lose excess body fat is as simple as burning more calories than one consumes.
- Obesity is a “first world” problem.
- Addiction to unhealthy foods is caused by a lack of self-discipline, which leads to weight gain.
- Obesity is a new disease.
- Dietary modifications aren’t backed by scientific research.
- If diet and exercise aren’t enough to lose weight, the patient isn’t trying hard enough.
- Bariatric surgery is for purely vain purposes and shows no significant health benefits.
These myths continue to be a barrier to a better global understanding of this worldwide epidemic. The team at Clinique Michel Gagner is heavily involved in spreading awareness about this disease in order to invite more potential patients to seek the help they need. If you’re interested in speaking with someone about a solution to weight-loss surgery, contact Clinique Michel Gagner or fill out our patient questionnaire.