I watched this compelling public service announcement entitled Rewind the Future issued by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in 2013 which essentially speaks to the fact that obesity is not a condition that arises overnight.
There was quite a debate in the comments as to whether the video depicted fat shaming or served to educate the public. This morning I read Mike’s thought provoking post “One More Pet Peeve – Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege.” The comments below the post were equally compelling and brought up many of my own conflicted feelings on the subject.
I’ve been overweight for the better part of the last 30 years. From the early age of 10, I remember overhearing my grandfather saying on what a pretty face I had, if only… You can fill in the blank. In school I was ashamed of how I looked. I felt different and awkward around my peers because of my larger size. In retrospect I was not as large as I felt. I’m still not, but it’s amazing how powerful those words in our head can be. I know what it’s like to be fat shamed by others and myself. It’s never ok to shame, bully or tease someone.
As a healthcare professional I do think patients need to be receptive to hearing the truth without assuming they are being shamed by their doctor. People also need to stop seeking the quick fix when it comes to medical conditions that can be reversed by behavioral changes. Often medications and/or surgical interventions are necessary, but they don’t eliminate the need for subsequent lifestyle alterations. The truth is losing weight is hard work. It is tedious to have to journal your food intake and weigh your food. It stinks say no to foods you love and feel a little hungry once in a while. Weight loss tries the patience because it can take a long time. Some days you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. On the flip side losing weight feels amazing and can inspire others around you to do the same.
Oddly enough I just started reading a continuing education module for my nursing license called The Obesity Epidemic and the Nurse’s Role. In the introduction it mentions, “worldwide, the number of overweight individuals is equal to the number who are suffering from starvation.” (Buchwald, 2007) The World Health Organization has deemed obesity a global epidemic and reports that by 2015 there will be 2.3 billion overweight people and 700 million obese people worldwide.
This is concerning on many levels. Obesity is associated with other medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Obesity is expensive to treat. Obesity can impair treatment and rehabilitation of other medical issues.
As a nurse my job is to educate and support patients. I am kind, caring and compassionate. It is not my place to judge and I don’t. I’ve been there. I’m still there to some degree.
As an individual there came a time when I had to take a long hard look at my weight problem and admit to myself how I got to that point. Then I had to face the facts and the hard truth about how I was going to lose that weight. I’m still working on it. I do wish sometimes I could rewind and stop the clock at the very moment food became more than sustenance for me.
What do you think about the video? Any thoughts on this topic?
Wow … now I do remember seeing that video, and also feeling conflicted because there are so many messages there. There is the core message that significant obesity (like when I weighed 375lbs at 23) is a very significant health risk. I don’t think it is ‘shaming’ for a doctor to say something about that.
Then there is the history with all of the personal choices, parental choices, and so on threaded between – there are mixed messages in all of that as well … and I don’t know how I feel about it. But it is very thought provoking.
Thanks for sharing that video and the shout out. It is funny, I know the topic bothers me because of my own history, but I didn’t assume it would get such incredible comments and attention. Whew … I am constantly blown away by this community.
Wow Aimee…I watched that video three times and I thought…IT DOES take more than a little time to get obese…and there are SO MANY things that can contribute to it. I think we need more of these types of videos to really show people how obesity can affect your life and the lives of those you love.
I’ve been obese for a long time and I’ve had times when I lost the weight and I’m STILL struggling. But seeing this video makes me want to try harder.
But like you said, it is not easy to try and lose weight…counting calories, saying no to so many foods that you enjoy. Even when you re-frame the concept and try to make it fun…deep down, you know it is still work. And when the scale/fit of clothes/how you look in the mirror doesn’t match to all the work you feel you are doing…it is SO easy to just give in.
So I have a feeling obesity will continue to get worse. Our government doesn’t care about individuals and our health…they care about money. And because of that, we are bombarded with sugar/fat in so many different ways.
In order to make a change….you have to WANT to change and then surround yourself with a community that does care…whether that be a loved one, family, blogs….
What a great blog post…it’s going into my “saved” ones.
BTW…where is that particular nursing CEU…would love to read it.
You have such an interesting perspective between your experience and your career. There’s a reason you’re blog is always a must-read for me. Like Mike, I’m not sure what to think about the video, it’s such a complicated issue, shaped by so many things, some of which people have no control of (choices of their parents, etc.). I think sadly that most people will continue to seek a quick fix and without the lifestyle and priority changes, they’ll continue to struggle, because you’re right, it’s hard. And patience, persistence, slow progress, self-denial are not strong suits of many people, regardless of weight.