Medicalizing Obesity?

Medicalizing Obesity, what’s the problem with that?

I first became aware there was a problem with the term “medicalizing obesity” yesterday while listening to a podcast where the discussion was centered on understanding the ever changing political correctness of language. I have obviously heard the term before, I just never considered it a problem.

Apparently there are people out there who feel there is a bad stigma which comes with “medicalizing obesity”.  There are people who feel that the stigma of their obesity is little different than racism and will insist that “we can no longer pretend that their obesity makes them less likely to be hired or to be promoted”. They feel their obesity will result in them being paid less, receiving biased medical treatment, being socially excluded and bullied by people who attempt to help them to live healthier. Allegedly we live in a culture that vilifies and fears fat bodies and as a society we treat people who do have weight problems as morally lesser beings.

Taking the absurdity even further, it has been stated:

You cannot wage war on obesity without waging war on the people who live in those “obese” bodies. Moreover, the dignity of a group should not be contingent on whether its members are deemed healthy, eating “right,” or exercising regularly. It should be obvious, but weight stigma does not reduce “obesity”—and health care should be about self-care and promoting the health of the person in all its forms.

There are even people who feel the term“Obesity” by itself is a problem, as it “pathologizes” the size of a body. They will tell you that body mass index (BMI) is nothing more than a mathematical equation based on height and weight to measure physical appearance, not health.

First, let me say that if you have a weight problem, my heart goes out to you. Brenda Sue and myself have both experienced our own issues with being overweight in the past too. Brenda Sue and I have dedicated countless hours in building this website and keeping it free to our readers in order to help others in losing weight and keeping it off. This website is first and foremost a labor of love over anything else.

Is there a boogeyman around every corner, or is it your imagination?

In America alone, 68% of our population are either overweight or obese. Being that a majority of our citizens are not fit and trim, does it pass the smell test that there is a widespread stigma against people with weight problems in the society of today?

Do you not believe that being overweight or obese is a medical issue?

In 2013, the American Medical Association declared that obesity is a disease and there should be an emphasis put on this condition by doctors and insurance companies.

From the US Center For Disease Control

People who have obesity, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:

  • All-causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Many types of cancer
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

One would have to be seriously uninformed or or in a state of denial to not recognize that weight issues can and will lead to poor health. Just because you might feel alright today at too heavy a weight does not mean that ten years down the road you will still feel good. Being overweight will eventually catch up with you over time.

Did you not get a job because of the stigma of fatness, or was it something else?

I believe there are jobs where one who is fat will be excluded for a number of reasons, but we need to be objective about this too.

If you were a gym owner, would you hire a fitness trainer to work with your clients if they were not fit and trim themselves?

Can we consider there are some jobs that people with weight issues simply cannot do? For instance, my full time job is one of driving a semi-truck and delivering construction and industrial supplies over a 515 mile route. I work long, hard hours that involves climbing on and off the truck and forklifts. I have to lift, pull and push very heavy items of freight to the back of my trailer in order to get it off the truck. And I often have to do this in tight confines that one with a big belly simply could not fit into.

If you or a loved one require the help of any type of first responder, do you want the individual to arrive and be able to do their job, or would it make any difference to you if they could barely breath and lacked the strength to do whatever it was necessary to help you?

Are you able to be on your feet for an entire shift, or do you need to sit down often?

There are many jobs that people with weight issues fill. It is wrong to believe that with 68% of America being overweight or obese, people cannot get a job because of their weight. As for pay raises and promotions, you have to be real about what it is you bring to the job. This is true no matter your level of fitness. Anyone can be trained to work hard, but not everyone is capable enough to actually manage or plan efficiently enough to be promoted. Your mind makes you money, not your willingness to work.

Have you actually felt your medical care was biased because of your obesity?

If so, why?

If you are overweight or obese and present yourself to a doctor for type 2 diabetes, heart issues, or metabolic syndrome to name just a few weight related medical problems, is it not the doctors obligation to talk to you about your weight and also to advise you on diet and exercise? How else will your doctor provide you with quality care if you cherry pick their advice and get your panties in a bunch if they mention your weight. If you are this type, it is you with the problem and not your doctor.

In order to illustrate the point even further to where even the most obstinate should understand, I had a morbidly obese family member who hurt his knee. When this occurred, he weighed between 450 to 500 pounds. His doctor told him he could not do much of anything until he had lost some weight. He could not perform any surgical procedures on the knee because there was no way it could support his weight and heal properly. Therefore, my family member got angry and decided the doctor was just a quack for even suggesting he lose weight. He felt his doctor was biased against fat people when the reality was, the doctor could not do an operation without complications coming afterwards that would have caused the knee to degrade into an even worse condition.

Was this decision based on bias or reality?

It should not be difficult to figure out the answer.

I despise bullies, and will not tolerate that kind of behavior out of anyone in my presence.

I understand that many, if not most, people with weight issues also have emotional problems associated with their size and can become quite defensive when their weight is mentioned.

While I believe it is understandable that many believe they are being picked on about their weight when anything about it is mentioned, it does not mean the one bringing the issue up is bullying you. They may truly care about you enough to want to help you overcome the problem.

If you are one who does not want obesity medicalized, you should really turn to your inner self and ask why.

If this term makes you angry, maybe the problem lies solely in your perception and it is quite possible you are the one not grounded in reality.

Obesity can and will lead you to medical problems. This is a fact and not an opinion. Remember this as you go about life – we are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts.



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