In 1985 the US National Institutes of Health convened the first major conference on Obesity, The Health Implications of Obesity. Medical experts scientifically validated what MDs were anecdotally seeing in their practices, the relationship between obesity and the adverse effects on health and longevity.
Despite the experts being mostly MDs and having determined that obesity was associated with life threatening diseases like diabetes, CVD, certain cancers and even premature mortality, in their consensus statement they noted that “Obesity creates an enormous psychological burden. In fact, in terms of suffering, this burden may be the greatest adverse effect of obesity.”
As early as 1985 they were wise enough to know that being weighted down by the stigma of obesity, the “psychological burden,” created greater human suffering than all the myriad of life threatening diseases associated with obesity.
Of Greek origin, Stigma refers to a marking or tattoo that was cut or burned into the skin of criminals, slaves, or traitors, to visibly identify them as blemished or morally polluted. These individuals were to be avoided or shunned. Obesity has become that stigma, the very visible marking that results in chronic psychological suffering.
That very stigma continues to riddle the lives of millions, in the workplace, in education, in health care, in romance and even within families. Being Weighted Down By Stigma, takes its toll with lifelong stress, and gets under the skin, worsening physical health and ironically exacerbates weight gain. (Weighted Down By Stigma. (see full text below).
Prudent best practices in bariatric counseling recognize the dual diagnosis of obesity and mental illness and focuses on stigma reduction to achieve weight reduction.
Julie Rochefort – Shift the Focus