A Taboo Subject – You’re Overweight

Why is it easier to prescribe a procedure than it is to tell a patient to lose weight naturally?

Why are we so afraid to discuss someone being unhealthily overweight? Why are we more afraid of offending the person than looking out for their health? Why are people more afraid of admitting they are overweight and doing something about it than they are of dying from it?

Are we really benefiting anyone by not discussing obesity?


Some people blame doctors for not discussing the subject with their patients, but will their patients really listen to them? An NPR article called “Why Doctors and Patients Talk Around Our Growing Waistlines”Β blames both the patient and the doctors.

And I agree. Both parties are to blame.

Doctors NEED…I repeat…NEED to discuss diet and exercise with their overweight patients…heck I even think they should discuss it with their normal weight patients! Doctors are respected figures who can influence our decisions concerning our health. They can’t worry about whether or not they offend their patients when they tell them they are overweight. I’m sorry, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Maybe if there were some incentive for doctors to discuss diet and exercise with their patients, they would. I mean we give them incentives to prescribe drugs…

Anyway, I do realize how touchy a subject it is to bring up with a patient.

It can be a very upsetting discussion. No one wants to hear that what they are doing is bad for them. And let’s face it, mainstream media has made us associate pretty negative images and words with being overweight.

And you don’t always know how the discussion will be received. You want it to encourage people to take charge of their health, but instead it can sometimes make people want to give up.

As the NPR article states one woman started cancelling her doctor’s appointments because she hadn’t lost enough weight. She felt ashamed.

Why would a doctor then want to discuss obesity with his/her patients if it is just going to scare them off?

So what then is the answer?

Maybe we all just need to grow a pair and stop being babies. Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable to talk about.

BUT YOU NEED TO DO IT!Β I mean 74.1% of the US population is overweight and 30% of those overweight people are obese.

Obesity and it’s health risks aren’t just going to disappear!Β Start talking people!

Posted on January 18, 2012, in Body Image, Man Biceps, Uhm? and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. I don’t think discussions are really enough. Doctors will say you need to diet and exercise but it doesn’t have much bite.

    We should really have something like a fat tax where you are weighed once per year and need to pay a fee per pound you are overweight (by some given measure). Money can be a great incentive!

  2. Honey. You think we don’t know we’re fat? That we have a problem? That it’s a health issue that needs to be addressed? Really? Outside of a small segment that may truly be in denial, we know we’re fat and that it’s unhealthy. Telling us isn’t going to help. Something that doctors and the medical profession at large can do to address it is make education more available and maybe do more follow up with overweight patients.

    The reality is that our medical system doesn’t have the time or the resources for preventative medicine, including providing education and nutritional support for people who need to lose weight. Maybe instead of referring an obese patient to a weight loss surgery clinic, maybe there needs to be more clinics devoted to medically supported weight loss. And by that I mean meetings with dietitians, classes on living healthier, maybe even beginning exercise classes. There is so much support and follow up for people who get the WLS, why couldn’t we give that kind of support and follow up to get people on the right track naturally?

    But just telling someone “damn, you’re a heifer” is really not going to solve the problem. Really.

    Woops. Soapbox. Sorry.

    • I totally agree that talking about the issue isn’t going to stop the problem. More definitely needs to be done.

      But if we don’t have the balls to even DISCUSS the issue how are we ever going to do more?

      And there is no incentive to allocate time/resources to preventative medicine soooo why would the medical system do that? Isn’t that why we love drugs and surgeries so much?

      Thanks for commenting!! πŸ™‚

      • We love drugs and surgeries so much because Big Pharma spends a lot of money to make sure they get precedence over preventative medicine (which is infinitely cheaper and harder to patent). But wouldn’t it be awesome if your health insurance company would spring for your gym membership instead of the thousands of dollars to have your stomach surgically altered? Maybe we need an Occupy the Gym movement. πŸ™‚

      • As long as it isn’t a sit-in I’m down! πŸ˜‰

  3. Fat people aren’t stupid. And we are fully able to make decisions for ourselves without being scolded like children or held up as an exception (the “good fatty”). Doctors DO speak to patients about weight, and they often do so to the exclusion of any other form of diagnosis. Finding a health practitioner that won’t lecture about weight at every visit is a relief for many people. For some perspective on this issue, check out http://fathealth.wordpress.com/

    I appreciate that you are calling for health practitioners to do more to help those who wish to lose weight by exploring nutrition and fitness education. But not everyone wants or needs to lose weight, and we’re tired of the assumption that we just don’t know any better.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      I don’t think fat people are stupid or need help making decisions. But I do think all of us sometimes need help finding direction. And even if you don’t want to or need to lose weight being able to openly discuss and learn about the risks is always good!

  4. If only it could be done in a way that was non-judgemental and didn’t scare people into wanting to come back. Almost every single one of my friends with an above “normal” BMI has a horror story about having a real medical problem, like a sprained ankle or endometriosis and having a doctor tell them “don’t come back until you’ve lost weight”. This is so damaging, because there are things that can be done for these patients without weight loss. And doctors can be blinded to other medical problems by a patient’s fat.

    Also, weight loss becoming more healthy. A lot of weight loss techniques, especially those that involve crash dieting and weight cycling, are a lot more unhealthy than remaining fat.

    I’d like to see doctors talk to patients about exercise and getting stronger and STFU about weight loss. Excercise is far more beneficial than a restrictive diet that may not work. And for god’s sake, doctors should not think that weight loss will solve all of a patient’s problems and fail to diagnose real medical issues.

    Even I’ve been told to lose weight when I have had knee problems and I am 6′ tall and have never weighed more than 178 lbs.

    πŸ™‚ I have a soapbox too. I’ve seen doctors’ hateful attitudes about fat damage the self-esteem and health of too many of my friends.

    • Don’t even get me started about how stupid BMI is. haha And I can’t believe doctors have said that to your friends!

      Weight loss does have to become more healthy. Crash diets only lead to other issues and usually even more weight gained. But a discussion about healthy living and educational opportunities should go on between doctors and patients – for everyone not just those who are overweight.

      Everyone needs to decide for themselves what they want to do with their body, but shouldn’t we also be well-informed about the decisions we are making? Shouldn’t a discussion on the topic exist?

      • I agree IF doctors were giving good advice about weight loss and exercise, but it seems like they often are not. They are still pushing low fat, high carb diets. They are still pushing ridiculously low-calorie diets for weight loss. They are still pushing weight loss over exercise, when exercise is something that indisputably makes people healthier, while a failed diet (which is most of them) tends to make people unhealthy.

        I’d like to see doctors educate themselves about healthy diet and exercise, and not just spout what Dr. Oz says, or the old calories in vs. calories out thing.

        I do think that if it weren’t such a loaded subject in society, where many people, including doctors believing that fat = lazy slob, it would be easier to have a less fraught discussion about it between doctor and patients. There was a study showing that doctors were less likely to respect their fat patients: http://fathealth.wordpress.com/study-on-physicians-disrespect-of-fat-patients/

        So yes, I agree, a discussion about healthy living, prevention over treatment should absolutely occur. The whole medical practice drives me crazy with its focus purely on disease. Every time I’ve tried to get a sports related injury treated, at least one person will tell me that if it hurts I should stop doing it. Foot problems from running? Stop running. Shoulder problems from yoga? Stop doing yoga. Dropped a bar on my leg doing an Olympic lift? Maybe you shouldn’t be doing those.

        I was amazed to read in Robb Wolf’s Paleo book that a large “athletic” heart is considered abnormal, if healthy. The normal for doctors is a sedentary person who does not have any major diseases yet. That’s shouldn’t be normal!

        Opinions, I haz them. Thanks for moderating this great discussion!

      • Thank you for commenting!

        I totally agree that doctors need more education when it comes to diet and exercise. I’ve fought with my doctor about some of my Paleo/Primal beliefs trust me! (And I love the dig at Dr. Oz haha) πŸ™‚

        Haha you know I’ve never had an injury where they told me to just stop doing something (knock on wood). It fits our society though. It’s a quick fix to say…don’t do that!

      • Interesting study by the way. I’d be interested to see if there was a discussion about weight loss which could also have affected how the doctor viewed the person with a higher BMI…

  5. I find it interesting doctors have no problem asking how much anal sex you have and which type of protection you are using and suggesting you get an HIV test but are so uncomfortable talking about weight issues.

    I think doctors need to do a better job in general with overweight and obese patients. Step 1 to correct the problem is talking about the topic in a way that makes people feel more comfortable. The more it’s ignored the harder it is.

    If a doctor tells a patient they’re too fat to treat an ankle sprain, that person probably isn’t going to see a doctor anytime soon.

    I agree with Cheree that most fat people know they’re fat, but I also think most fat people don’t know what to do about it. I think doctors need to create a more comfortable environment for overweight patients and patients need to stop the whole “I can be fat and healthy” thing. It’s one thing if you’re fat and you don’t care, more power too you. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem out there for everyone else. I think both parties can do a better job.

    • I agree that it is interesting that doctors can talk about anal sex and HIV more easily than obesity. Is it because they feel they can more easily treat “sex” related issues than they can the problems caused by obesity?

      Is it easier for doctors to prescribe the pills and such for sexual diseases than it is to recommend a good diet and fitness plan? Probably….

    • I CAN be fat and still be healthy. Just like I can be skinny and still be unhealthy. There’s a wide range of lived experiences you ignore by holding onto the fallacy that fat people are all unhealthy. Lest you think I’m someone who just doesn’t care, I’m an athlete who trains extensively to improve speed, strength, and agility, and regular physicals back up my claim of good health. I currently weigh more than I ever have. My stick-thin little brother has diabetes, my slimmer husband has high cholesterol, but the only health problem I’ve been diagnosed with in the last few years was an ear infection.

      • My question is are we talking about fat as in weight on a scale or body composition. Because my weight on a scale is high for my height now but my body composition is something I’m proud of….

        Trust me I’ve ranted about the skinny fat plenty!

  6. First of all, they should have my doctor who (politely) has no trouble reminding me of my weight issues when I see him. Secondly, I have nooooo trouble talking about my weight with others but I have never been a really private person so that is just part of my personality. I think most people try to lose weight at least once but the majority give up and are discouraged later by their earlier results. I think the biggest problem with weight loss or even weight gain if you need/want it is the lack of know-how. There are millions of diets you can look up to help you along but most people do not realize everyone is different, especially when it comes to what they were handed genetically. It actually is harder for some people to lose weight than others but it is still not impossible and trouble comes in all shapes in sizes so while your friend/neighbor/coworker/family member etc may look fabulous, they could be and most likely are struggling with something else physically in their lives and they just don’t want to talk about it. Overcoming anything that comes your way is a part of growing up and I think the lack of a support system and know-how for individual weight loss/gain is the big problem. I heard somewhere though that 2011 saw a big decrease in obesity rates so go us! The fact that we are so different takes a toll on us individually as well, I always thought I was “fat” in high school even though I had a hourglass figure, literally. Because I always weighed more even though I busted my butt and felt great killed my self esteem. I found out later when I stopped exercising that it was my muscle weighing down that scale… apparently when people in my family quit working out, we still have a large amount of muscle following us around, especially in our legs. Older me wanted to smack younger me but I guess everyone gets that feeling at one time or another. Mandatory weight loss/gain to be a healthier you should not be a taboo subject, especially since you see statues of both skinny and full figured women all over the world that was and still is considered art. Oh well, maybe if more people start talking about it, it won’t be so taboo. I have a big mouth and a current big weight problem so if you come across anyone who needs someone to talk to send them my weigh, despite my long rant I have the amazing ability to listen as well. =-) Great post.

    • Thank you! I love your openness and you seem very content with your body now which is awesome!

      There definitely isn’t a one size fits all approach to dieting and fitness. That is why I recommend people do self-experimentation AND lots of research. I do think there is a perfect diet and fitness plan out there for everyone – it just takes awhile to find it.

      For me the perfect diet is a version of Primal/Paleo and the perfect exercise program is focused on heavy lifting. And even now that I have a base, I’m constantly making little adjustments to make it work even better!

      If you ever have any questions about diet or fitness, shoot me an email!! πŸ™‚


  7. Thought this video could educate a few people, just copy and past into your browser. =-)


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