The controversial title may make many people angry, but let’s try to address the matter with calm deliberation. I know that many who follow my posts are aware that obesity is a complex disease and that it can lead to more than 200 other diseases, among which some that can be very serious.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, pancreatitis, varicose veins and thrombosis, depression, various types of cancer … in short, obesity is a serious health problem that should be addressed and prioritized throughout a medical appointment, right?

But that is not the case, and I will add more. Nowadays, depending on the patient, they may even take offense when asked about their weight. We live in a period in which we all want to be accepted as we are, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, profession, and physical appearance, which is very good, and it is more precisely to this last point that I would like to get.

I agree that the discrimination that people who are overweight suffer is abhorrent, going from bullying and bad jokes to the extreme that some are segregated at work or neglected in their relationships because they do not fit a certain standard of beauty, as if being obese were a personal option, not a disease.

However, I disagree with those who want to raise the flag trying to simplify obesity as a matter of personal identity or just appearance and that we should accept ourselves as we are. It is almost like letting a patient get their diabetes out of control as if it were just a personality trait.

This is very wrong, as we ignore the whole scope of health and put a barrier between the patient and the doctor. The patient comes to believe that it is okay to be that way and the doctor is afraid to appear to be prejudiced when proposing that his patient should lose weight. The important thing is to face obesity as it is: a disease to be fought like any other, with the instruments provided by medicine, and jointly, in a harmonious partnership between patient and health professional.

Finally, let it be clear that this is very different from wanting to impose an ideal weight that is almost impossible to achieve. What we seek is balance and, above all, a healthy state so we can avoid diseases and the loss of quality of life associated with excess weight. Any balanced weight loss represents a health gain and should be celebrated as a great achievement!

by Paulo Gustavo Ribeiro