Time to Change the Medical Treatment and Attitudes Directed at Obesity?

NPR: New podcast examines wellness trends and beliefs, like what weight means about health. Interview with Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes who co-host the podcast “Maintenance Phase.”

This interview has a lot of useful ‘food for thought.’

Some excerpts:

  • Every year, millions of Americans go on a diet. Americans also spend billions of dollars on weight loss products. So why, despite all of that, are obesity rates in the U.S. are continuing to rise?….
  • There’s a very clear correlation between weight and bad health outcomes, but weight is not the only thing that’s correlated with health. We know that poverty has a devastating effect on people’s health. The life expectancy in various counties in America can be up to 20 years of difference…And yet, weirdly, when it comes to obesity, it’s like, oh, no, no, we know that the obesity is causing this, right? Like, people have kind of jumped to this causal explanation…
  • Paradoxically, and unfortunately, what we have seen in the years since that redefinition [of obesity as a disease] is a skyrocketing of bias against fat people. That has happened amongst health care providers. It has happened amongst social workers. It has happened amongst the general public in the United States…
  • I think we would all do ourselves a really significant service by actually just focusing on the health markers and not the proxy for the health markers, which is weight…
  • What we find is really consistent stories from fat people of going into the doctor with a migraine headache and their doctor tells them to lose weight. They go in with a car accident, their doctor tells them to lose weight. They go in with a tumor, their doctor tells them to lose weight. This is something that is, like, really, really devastating to the health of fat people that essentially people don’t listen to them.

My take: Diets for weight loss have very low rates of success. Focusing on healthy eating habits (eg. food/beverage composition, eating together) along with encouraging healthy activity levels is likely to be most beneficial for long-term outcomes. .

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