Doctors no longer address obesity. Women are more accepting of their bodies. Yay?

During my annual physical I noticed that my Doctor's office no longer opens a dialog or instructional posters/handouts about obesity, overweight, underweight, or weight at all. Patients are asked to stand on a scale where there is a poster offering tips along the lines of "Health At Every Size."



I think these current news stories, when shown together, show a bigger theme at play:



Doctors now ask permission to discuss weight, if they bring it up at all.




 "...social issues may take priority over discussing obesity, and social stigma may make providers hesitant to label patients, especially children, as obese."

"URMC Study Shows Obesity Diagnosis is Often Overlooked"



"In 1991, no state posted an obesity rate higher than 20%. In 2015, all states topped 20%, and half were at or above 30%."
 

"Modest Progress or New War on Obesity?"





It's now three years ago that I published my book American Women Didn't Get Fat in the 1950s. Seems like little has changed since then. What will it take for there to be a cultural shift so that "body acceptance" coincides with an increase in compassionate, candid conversations with medical professionals about healthy body weight?

Comments

  1. Very good points, Averyl! I'm reminded of a doctors appointment I had around 10 or 12 years ago, in which I behaved rather badly with my doctor, when he brought up the subject of my increasing weight. I had just entered menopause, had a stressful job, and two adolescent kids at home (and all their junk food!), so it's no wonder that my weight had been creeping up over the previous years. I'd always been pretty good about keeping it down, but I'd reached a point where I just couldn't seem to anymore, and just didn't have the energy to try. Anyway at my annual, my long-time doctor just calmly mentioned something about how well I was doing..."except it looked like my weight might be..." and all he had to do was say those few words and I jumped into my defensive mode! After that he sort of flinched and the discussion went into the dumpster. Poor guy! Within a few years, I'd gotten my weight and blood pressure back down, and after retirement, down even more, but after that one "melt-down visit", he rarely brought it up anymore (though I made sure I proudly pointed out how much I'd lost). Anyway, it was kind of sad... but I guess I scared him! So we patients often bear the blame too for shutting down the dialog!
    :p. Lois

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lois, you should be proud! At middle age and afterward, maintaining and not gaining becomes more of a challenge, so to also lose weight and keep it off is WOW!

      I agree that patients can and should have the right to shut down a dialog; it's their right. But docs et al should have the obligation to open a talk about weight respectfully with each and every patient until they know they are going to get shut down or smacked (ha).

      Delete
  2. I was in the library looking up pattern fitting and clothing styles for body types when I found a book about dressing so you never look fat again. I probably should have paid better attention to the title. I did find advice I was looking for only after wading through page after page of the author bemoaning her weight. She knew she needed to eat less, and wasn't happy with her size, but when she went to the doctor all she was told was that she was in the perfect BMI category. It was like she was looking for someone with authority to tell her what she already knew in her heart.
    She didn't mention being above the Metlife weight scales, she wasn't getting any criticism from her healthcare provider about healthy weight outside of a BMI chart, and yet her frustration with feeling she was overweight was very apparent.
    Sensitive patient feelings must be why physicians are asking permission or not talking about obesity. It's not good. So many people suffer from ailments that could be prevented or cured just by losing excess weight. My goodness, my neck felt so much better after I lost 45 lbs! And I stopped snoring! And I quit feeling like I had to over eat.
    My husband and I were listening to one of his business podcasts and they mentioned that being your correct weight will prevent eight types of cancer. Eight! Just not being over weight. Nothing about eating your veggies and whole grains. Just the scale number. That's awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 45 pounds!! Amazing! The healthy changes are always so rewarding!

      The story of your friend reminds me of me before I finally "got it."

      That is something re cancer and weight!!

      Delete
  3. I want to follow the Metlife chart, but it says the recommended weights only apply to persons up to age 59. What happens at age 60?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was curious about your question because none of my 1950s sources stated that the charts were designed for people up to age 59, so I googled it. I see some websites stating what you mention above, but I don't see any direct sources quoted. It's possible that maybe in the 1980s when the charts were once again "updated" that that was added?

      In any case, the advice I read in my 1950s books is that as we age we should weigh little more than when we did in our 20s (which, back then, usually meant we were fit unlike today's average), reason being as we age we tend to lose muscle which weighs more. :)

      Delete
    2. Some background on the evolution of the MetLife chart since the 50s:

      http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/11/sports/fitness-ideal-weight-is-just-an-elbow-away.html

      Delete
  4. Yep, I make an effort to stay at my 20s weight...at least the healthy weight, not the pre-wedding Helena Rubinstein starvation diet weight, LOL! One thing I don't like about the MetLife chart is that it tells you that you should be dressed and wearing three-inch heels when you weigh yourself. That means I'd have to aim for the bottom of my range not the top!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Helena was a household name for a while, at least in many of the beauty ads in my mags, but I never saw an ad for her diet. I was curious and found this:

      https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1144&dat=19560311&id=CzEbAAAAIBAJ&sjid=500EAAAAIBAJ&pg=3581,3244295

      The 50s MetLife chart that appears in my book assumes you are wearing TWO inch heels, not three, so simply add two inches to your height. I like the idea though of having to get all gussied up to stand on the scale. :)

      Delete
  5. The HR diet I found in a women's magazine in 1978 was her classic "grapefruit diet", which resulted in me losing about 10 pounds off my already slender form (too be too thin), and gave me an acid stomach and potential ulcers. I was allowed very little champagne at my reception, and had to eat baby food on our honeymoon!

    Ha! I didn't even think about the fact that by weighing with 2 inch heels on (and you're correct, it's 2 inch), I could look at the taller height/weight ratio, duh!

    ReplyDelete
  6. P.s. the link you sent me made me smile and reminded me of your book cover! It also reminded me of the book I'm reading now, which you may have read, "Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting over 2,000 Years", by Louise Foxcroft.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good question! I think the problem is that it's a lose lose for the doctor. People don't lose weight and people leave a doctor that tells them to. (I know this is not always the case.) The closest I can relate to this from a positive aspect was I had asthma as a kid, when asked by my doctor about my activity level, I told my pediatrician that I was very active in spite of the asthma. He told me to keep being active. Something that I remember with gratitude to this day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to see a collaborative approach as opposed to: "You're too heavy. Lose weight or else you will suffer from (insert specific health condition.)" It could include a referral to a nutritionist, counseling, etc, or at the very least a reading list that offers supportive and useful steps.

      Delete

Post a Comment