Obesity and Health: Some Wishes for 2015

As we start to look toward the new year, here are some of my wishes for 2015 in how we address obesity and health. I realize some of these might take many years of wishes but I am determined to chip away.

We need to stop blaming and shaming those affected by obesity. Anyone who is fighting this battle on a personal basis (my story) knows that obesity is a multifaceted issue and much more complicated than saying no to the bread roll and jogging. If it was that easy, I doubt we would have millions of people affected.

How about addressing obesity by creating a supportive environment...

Help put an end to fat shaming and weight based bullying. Call it out when you see it. Don't laugh at "fat jokes" obesity is not a joke or entertainment.

Doctor's offices need to be a weight bias free safe zone. Medical professionals need to treat all people with kindness and compassion. Period.

Fight for access to obesity treatments and insurance plans (& Medicare) that cover those treatments (nutrition classes, fitness classes, pharmaceuticals, surgical intervention, counseling) and not just the $$$$ illnesses caused by obesity (diabetes, cancer, heart, etc.)

Support creating jobs with living wages that don't have people struggling to make ends meet (Little Debbie $1 a box, pasta $1 a box versus fish, chicken, apples several $'s a pound) and work so many hours then spend another couple on public transportation making that dollar menu the option.

Encourage teaching children nutrition and healthy cooking in school and put physical education back in their day. Stop marketing junk food to kids. Why must there be candy, soda and chips for sale in every store in America?! Best Buy (why do I need a Snickers and a Coke with my Big Screen TV) and Toys R Us (to get to the checkout why must we must pass through enough cartoon character shaped sugar to fill a football stadium.) How about creating a few supermarket checkout lines that are free of candy.

Make neighborhoods safe and streets with sidewalks and streetlights so an evening walk is possible.

Advocate for healthy vending machines and nutritious and affordable meals in work cafeterias, walking meetings, lunch time walking programs.

Model healthy eating choices in all public buildings and hospitals. How many hospitals in America will treat you for an obesity related heart condition down one hall and sell you soda, candy bars and chips in the vending machine waiting room.

Scripps Health, Chula Vista, CA

These are not excuses. This is reality, but it doesn't have to be. Of course, personal behaviors factor into obesity and healthy choices in body (food, movement) and mind (emotional health) are very important but some of the initiatives above would sure help in the fight.

So there's a few I'll be fighting for in 2015. The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story!

I encourage you to JOIN the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) The OAC is a 50,000 member-strong 501(c)(3) National non-profit organization. The mission of the OAC is to elevate and empower those affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support. The OAC is near and dear to my heart. I am a proud member and I am currently serving on the OAC National Board of Directors. Become a member ($20/year)  I encourage everyone who is, has been, or loves someone who is affected by obesity to joinYou get a great magazine mailed to your house too. FYI: You do NOT have to be a member to attend any OAC events (please make plans to attend the National Convention in August) or utilize their FREE resources but it's a great way to pay it forward.

I believe in everyday advocacy. I know my voice matters and that I can help change the world: Everyday Advocacy - 5 Easy Ways

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Anonymous said...

Outstanding article. The only other addition I would have is that aftercare after bariatric surgery needs to improve. We also need a way to verify and check bariatric surgeons, because the current methods do not help show you where a truly good option is and isn't.

Michelle "Shelly" said...

Agree! I think we need less hoops before surgery (how many more diet attempts, I mean come on I don't know very many people that haven't tried a zillion diets, we know how those go) delaying 6 months, 1 year etc. while we become sicker certainly does not help outcomes.

After-care varies sooooo much. I know bariatric programs that have a team of support for their patients dietitians, group support, counseling, online tips and resources, follow-ups, labs, great stuff and I know some that cut, sew them up and send they on their way with little more than a few pages of "instructions." Sad and scary. It's an emotional roller coaster the first few years especially and support is so important. So high five, yes.

On the checking on bariatric surgeon's I agree as well. I tend to lean toward hearing what patients have to say, firsthand experiences. Mortality rates, 30 day readmission rates are pretty easy to get stats of but I want to hear several stories from people like you and me... there are patient review forums but sadly on some... the negative reviews are often not posted or removed and/or certain Dr's pay to be seen on the first page... so IMHO best bet find a few patients on those forums and ask them to share their thoughts, experiences... are you hearing similar stories?

Merry Christmas and thanks.

TweedleDea said...

oh I liked this post. I had my surgery after having 2 children and losing 2 (one was a twin loss and another a miscarriage). I needed lots of fertility treatments all 3 times. I was told over and over I needed weight loss surgery to make getting pregnant easier. So I did after my miscarriage, it worked, I rocked it (great support, super after care-- kaiser in Fremont) Then I got pregnant on my own just over a year after my surgery with my doctor's blessing, because I had things under control. But here I am, with a one year old and trying for baby #4, and wouldn't you know, the same old fertility problems, WLS while amazing for me in so many ways, didn't solve my fertility issues. I kinda resent that I was pressured to get the surgery, I know it made so many improvements to my life, but it's not a be all end all. There are greater problems going on and they could only see the fat. sadness. I'm still glad I did it. I'm healthy for my children and that is important.

claudia M. said...

Thank you for all you do and hope you have a Wonderful New Year! God bless!


Heather Banwar said...

I have to say that the hospital where I underwent my RNY (which is also the hospital where I attend nursing school) has a phenomenal cafeteria which is geared toward healthy lifestyles! Sure they have their pizza and grill type items but there are also daily options for excellent healthy eats like bruschetta chicken. In addition there is a large selection of protein bars, a deli bar, excellent salad bar, and they even keep SGF syrup on hand at the coffee bar that you can add yourself! Sooo many other excellent finds there as well (hummus with veggies, fresh fruits, yogurts galore) and when you ask for a grilled chicken sandwich or turkey burger without the bun, they don't give you the stinkeye! ;) Love it!!! Kudos to them!