Fat-shaming is avoidable.
Pharmacies across the UK have, for many years, demonstrated the ability to tackle the rising levels of obesity whilst maintaining a sympathetic and non-judgemental approach, which help avoid accusations of fat-shaming.
This seems at odds with reports, such as on www.today.com, saying:
Doctors are as guilty of fat-shaming people as everyone else
Fat-shaming, fat stigmatisation and fat bias are increasing – and the medical profession is not immune
Obesity is costing the health service vast amounts of money treating often preventable medical conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes and possibly even cancer. To combat this pressure on the NHS we must start tackling obesity in a manner that avoids fat-shaming, dehumanisation and ultimately gets true and significant weight loss results.
There has been an outcry against Cancer Research UK for documenting the link between cancers and obesity. This outcry against Cancer Research UK’s campaign to highlight the proven increased risk of cancer in obese people further highlights the sensitive nature of tackling excess body weight.
Why the fat-shaming outcry against a scientific fact?
The issues surrounding fat-shaming and the dehumanisation of obesity may stem from the overall weight-related message chanted day-in day-out by society as a whole. Unfortunately some healthcare professionals blindly perpetuate this mantra.
People are sick of being told:
“weight loss is simple, just eat less and exercise more”.
This dieting mantra has been handed out for decades and of course it continues to fail. The current weight loss message puts the onus on the individual in a condescending way. It implies simplicity and the notion of laziness and ignorance.
Two thirds of the population cannot all be lazy and ignorant.
It is the obesity message that is naïve.
Weight loss is not easy and real weight loss is not benign. Weight loss affects medical conditions and treatments.
While losing excess weight is proven to be beneficial for health, the way weight loss interacts with medical conditions and medications must be considered in order to maintain the benefit.
Reducing levels of obesity can indeed lower the risk of developing many types of cancer, lower elevated blood pressure and even force type 2 diabetes remission.
We all wish the end of cancer, so the message should be welcomed but why wasn’t it?
The current weight loss message lays all the health risks including the cancer risk firmly at the obese person’s feet in a manner that implies
“if you really want to lose weight you can easily do so by choosing to eat less, so if you really want to reduce your cancer risk just get on with it”.
It is no wonder that those afflicted by obesity feel fat-shamed, dehumanised and discouraged.
How has pharmacy managed to avoid fat-shaming where Doctors & other healthcare professionals seem to fail?
Firstly, let’s ask the question “what if the weight loss message was different”?
What if instead of saying “just eat less and exercise more” there was more understanding of the problem, a humanization of the obesity message and a lot more empathy?
What if the obesity message contained a solution that could really work.
Let’s start with…..
To lose weight, lowering overall calorie intake is critical, exercise alone can only do so much, especially if it is physically impossible for the individual. We must understand obesity is a disease and a contributor to a large number of diseases, formed by many components including a predisposition to deep-seated habitual behaviours, akin to addiction. It is definitely not simple, but there can be help.
Try telling a long-term smoker to “just cut back on the cigs until you quit”, or an alcoholic to “drink less”. We surely recognise these statements as being total nonsense and perpetuate a total ignorance of the issues that cause a person to continue following addictive type behaviours that negatively affect their health.
The pharmacist is an expert in health and medications.
The pharmacy is available on the high-street, often 7 days a week and late nights.
Pharmacy is proving that a more care-orientated and scientifically valid approach to obesity really works.
The Lipotrim programme recognises obesity as a form of addictive behaviour and a chronic medical problem, by definition a disease. Pharmacy also understands that obesity may not be “cured”, although it can be controlled, but just as a smoker or alcoholic can relapse so can a dieter. Pharmacy can therefore be counted upon for long term help keeping the weight under control.
Lipotrim’s unique nutritionally complete formula foods allow the patient to distance themselves from food, creating the control that only abstinence can achieve. The regular availability of the participating pharmacist’s expertise supports the patients both professionally and individually throughout the weight loss and long-term weight management phases.
Remember it is Lipotrim’s “as near to food abstinence as you can safely get” regimen that promotes separation from, and control over, the substance of abuse.
With the local population regularly accessing the pharmacy for health-related issues, the pharmacy can underpin their advice, where appropriate, with the offer of a consultation to discuss the prevention and treatment of many medical conditions through their stop-smoking, alcohol/drug withdrawal and weight loss support and pharmacy services.
What do we need to learn when tackling obesity and avoiding fat-shaming?
Healthcare professionals need to recognise that not everyone who carries excess weight wants to change, now or ever.
Fat shaming only makes things worse.
To avoid dehumanisation and fat-shaming we ALL must adopt a more caring and sensitive approach to defining and discussing the true causes of and consequences of obesity.
Pharmacists recognise the negative impact excess weight is proven to have on our health and so they are offering solutions that have a real chance of success.
Pharmacy is achieving what many other institutions are failing to achieve, real long term weight management led by knowledgeable healthcare professionals.
Pharmacy, through the Lipotrim programme, can truly support those people trying to lose weight, who are being let down by the current mantra of “just eat less and exercise more”. By taking weight loss seriously pharmacy can offer, especially in the context of supplying medications as part of medical care, health advice and support without resorting to, or being accused of dehumanisation or fat-shaming.