Friday, January 22, 2016

The Label of Obesity

This ad from seca showed up in my inbox today, and was brought to my attention by one of my colleagues, leading me to rescue it from the junk folder.

We wonder why medical professionals are a major source of stigma for individuals with obesity, but that's not at all surprising, given this is what they are exposed to. The ad suggests that tagging people--quite literally in the picture--will motivate and improve patient satisfaction.

Understanding body composition CAN be useful for people who are aiming to reduce fat mass, providing information that is more nuanced and useful than weight alone. But we do NOT put a tag on people, as if they were a 50/50 cotton/poly blend. I can see how this advertising campaign may be successful with some clinicians. But the last thing patients with obesity need is another label, and being "labeled" with body composition is no better than being labeled by BMI, unless it is information that patient has deemed useful for them.This is the core of patient-centered medicine.

There are so many ways to approach this, and this is not necessary. (And no, also putting a tag on the shoulder of trim person under "sports medicine" applications does not make this better.)