How would you feel if you woke up one day to discover that the definitions you were taught in high school have changed? We think you’d feel as deceived as we felt when it was announced that Pluto is no longer a part of our solar system!
Something similar has recently happened in Canada. A group of Canadian physicians belonging to a nonprofit called Obesity Canada, have released a statement saying that doctors around the world have been looking at obesity from the wrong angle. They’ve urged doctors to start treating obesity beyond body mass index (BMI) even though the whole world uses BMI as a measure of how obese you are.
Let’s try to understand what the fuss is all about.
A Whole New Outlook Towards Obesity
According to new obesity measuring guidelines published by the Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons, obesity care shouldn’t be limited to the usual approach of eating less and exercising more. Doctors should care about their obese patients based on evidence-based principles of chronic disease management. They must approve of their patients’ life experiences and address the sources of their obesity.
The guide further points out that the small reductions of about 3-5% in weight can lead to overall health improvements. In fact, even according to BMI, an obese person’s best weight might not be their ideal weight.
According to Statistics Canada, one in four Canadians can be pronounced as obese. But this judgment has traditionally been based on the guideline that was adopted in 2006. With the new guideline in place, while doctors still recommend using BMI and waist circumference as diagnostic criteria, they will also be looking at how weight impacts people’s overall health. The new guide suggests that doctors should provide medication, psychological therapy, and bariatric treatments like gastric-bypass surgery as treatments to obesity.
Overall Health First, Obesity Management Later
The new guide emphasizes that every individual, regardless of their size, should adopt a healthy and well-balanced eating pattern while also engaging in regular physical activity. There’s also a suggestion that doctors should offer better suggestions concerning their patients’ weight rather than the age-old ‘cut your calories’ advice.
A professor of medicine at the University of Alberta, who was among the group of physicians who wrote the guide, said that the new approach is quite different from the normal one in which a scale is used to diagnose obesity. He added that obesity has nothing to do with shape or size or anything else. The main concern should be how your body fat is affecting your health.
Dr. Ramos Salas, the director of research and policy at Obesity Canada, commented that for a very long time, most doctors have attributed obesity as a lifestyle behavior. It’s been considered a shame game till date. But the best way to deal with the problem is to extend support to obese people like others living with chronic diseases.