The Grand Apology
It isn’t long ago that the general consensus in the medical system was that obesity was a lifestyle problem and people just needed to eat less and get to the gym. For far too long people were encouraged to go follow a diet and they would lose weight. This, in fact, is far from the truth and we are begnning to figure that out.
Today, thankfully, we know this and the tune is beginning to change around the medical community. The Canadian Medical Association and American Medical Association, as well as the World Health Organization, have all identified obesity as a medical condition. What this means is that obesity is now recognized for the complex chronic disease that it is. We have identified hundreds of areas on the human genetic code that impact weight, we have identified hormones in both our bodies and brain that cause people who are trying to lose weight to gain it back, and we can see complex transformations inside the bodies and brains of people who are living with this disease. These leads us to what clinical psychologist Michael Vallis calls ‘The Grand Apology’. The time where, on behalf of all of the entire past and present medical community, those who are working in the field of weight management and obesity need to say we are sorry. Sorry that your complex medical condition was deemed your problem, or something that can be ‘fixed’ with eating differently. Sorry that you have be stigmatized and put down by health care providers. Sorry that you were told that in order to be healthy you ‘must’ fit into a specific weight range. As Dr. Vallis has pointed out when he talks about this, the very same thing happened when diabetes was identified as a chronic disease. It’s hard to believe there was a time when diabetes was considered a lifestyle problem instead of a medical condition. I can only look forward to a time when we can say the same about obesity.
We know so much more about the challenges of living with excess weight today and need to let go of dogma of the past. In order for you to be successful in managing your weight, in managing your chronic disease of obesity, we all have to let these ideas go. Not some of them, but all of the ideas we have carried about weight. Doing this will only make your journey, your life, that much better. We can let go of making you fit into an ‘ideal weight’ by getting you to ‘eat less and exercise more’ and let go of over simplified ‘eat this, not that’ mentalities that some have of weight management. The more we talk about this the better our future.
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