When obesity has become a national health crisis caused by overeating and lack of exercise, a body positivity website has created free “Don’t Weigh Me” cards for patients who find stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office stressful. The group supports a “Health at Every Size” philosophy, based around the assumption that “the current practice of linking weight to health using BMI (body mass Index) standards is biased and unhelpful.” An analysis predicts that by 2030, 48.9% of adults in the United States will be obese, and 24.2% will be severely obese.
“Because we live in a fatphobic society, being weighed and talking about weight causes feelings of stress and shame,” the website states. “Many people feel anxious about seeing the doctor and will avoid going to the doctor to avoid the scale.” WTF?
While some people think about obesity in terms of looks, the damage it wreaks inside the body is the most concerning. “Obesity is serious because it is associated with poorer mental health outcomes and reduced quality of life,” explains the CDC.
The NY Times recently reported obesity is the leading cause of mortality in the United States. Obesity costs the nation $1.72 trillion every year. As Bill Maher pointed out last week, 53 people were killed in mass shootings in August. By comparison, in the same month, 40,000 Americans died because of diseases associated with obesity, causing him to call liberals “the NRA of mayonnaise” for their unwillingness to discuss this mass killer openly.
Americans are sick too — much sicker than many realize. More than 100 million adults — almost half the entire adult population — have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Cardiovascular disease afflicts about 122 million people and causes roughly 840,000 deaths each year, or about 2,300 deaths each day. Three in four adults are overweight or obese. More Americans are sick, in other words, than are healthy.
Poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the United States, causing more than half a million deaths per year. Just 10 dietary factors are estimated to cause nearly 1,000 deaths every day from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes alone. These conditions are dizzyingly expensive. Cardiovascular disease costs $351 billion annually in health care spending and lost productivity, while diabetes costs $327 billion annually. The total economic cost of obesity is estimated at $1.72 trillion per year or 9.3 percent of gross domestic product.
Insurers should require that all HCPs talk to patients who are obese about the dangers they are facing and offer counseling to help them lose weight. A card to tell HCPs not to weigh people is not the answer.