Medical students need to be taught that obesity is a complex medical condition, because discussing this highly taboo subject with a patient can be demanding, intimidating and challenging.
We now know that people are three times more likely to die if they are obese or overweight, but there is still immense stigma attached to the condition. New research reveals that how medical students talk about patients’ weight could be exacerbating this stigma.
Researchers found when students were kind and sympathetic they were more likely to think the person could move from fat to thin. But when students were critical, they all believed there was little chance of the individual losing weight. Criticism also made students less likely to offer the person help with weight loss.
So, research reveals that the language we use to talk about weight is important and we will consider this some more in a moment.
Meanwhile, while the stigma of obesity exists, health authorities are still trying to work out the best ways to help overweight people. They’re trying to apply methods which will assist people to move towards health, wellbeing and the attainment of health-related life goals.
A method being considered by the NHS would encourage people who are obese or overweight to take part in physical activity. This is with the aim of managing weight. Beneficial as this sounds, exercise isn’t a cure for obesity and, in fact, more needs to be done to prevent its development in the first place.
According to Dr Nick Finer, who is based at UCL, and his team, the vast majority of trends in physical activity, from household duties to occupational and leisure activities, have risen over time. On the other side of the coin, however, there has been a substantial increase in obesity, even in the last few decades.
We must also consider how social structures contribute to obesity. People with lower incomes are more liable to be obese and overweight. Detergent capsules, which are popular with many people and also mums, cost slightly less than 5p per wash, compared with 3 and a half p per wash for liquids. The cost of a servings of fruit and vegetables a day has risen by 70% over forty years when comparing the 70s with the 2010s. Since many people want to eat healthily, they think they cost slightly less.
Although physical activity can be beneficial to a person’s health and wellbeing, Dr Finer concludes that there is more to obesity than merely activity and that more needs to be done to prevent obesity from developing in the first place.
Britain’s marketing watchdogs are investigating whether food chain Domino’s is encouraging obesity. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is looking into a TV advert for the company which shows a car with an inflatable Domino’s pizza on its roof.
The ASA has asked Domino’s to provide evidence to back up claims that the pizza is a healthier option than other fast food. Domino’s has defended the advert, saying it was “humorous” and “clearly jokes” about the product. The ASA said it would make a ruling in due course.
The campaign group Sustain has also written to Domino’s, asking it to remove the advert. Sustain’s Charles Lawley said: “This advert is highly irresponsible. It’s normalising obesity, it’s linking pizza with an outdoor activity like going to the beach and it’s pairing pizza with an activity that’s beneficial to health – which it isn’t.”
A Domino’s spokesperson said: “This is a light-hearted advert which clearly jokes about the product. We have received no complaints about the advert.”
In the past decade, there has been a lot of media coverage surrounding obesity. We decided to take a closer look at this coverage to see what trends we could find.
We found that the majority of media coverage on obesity is negative. This is likely because obesity is often seen as an unhealthy condition that can lead to serious health problems.
There has been a lot of focus on the causes of obesity, with many articles looking at various factors that can contribute to someone becoming obese. Some of the most commonly mentioned causes include poor diet and lack of exercise.
There has also been a lot of discussion about the health risks associated with obesity. These include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the amount of media coverage on obesity in children and teenagers. This is likely due to the fact that obesity rates in these age groups have been rising steadily in recent years.
Overall, the media coverage of obesity has been largely negative. However, there has been some positive coverage as well, with some articles highlighting successful weight-loss stories and efforts to tackle obesity.