Dear Mr. Dad: As someone who has been overweight for most of my childhood and adult life, I am concerned about my son facing the same struggle. I am someone who has felt shame while at the same time being uncomfortable talking about myself as someone with obesity – which, in medical terms, I am. This has frequently discouraged me from talking to my doctor about seeking new options to address my weight. Lately, obesity seems like an especially hot topic in the news. I’ve heard a fair amount of discussion about further medical information and changes in available treatments. Is there anything new and real that I can share with my son as he goes through similar challenges?
A: I do see a lot of new information about an “ideal weight” and how to get there. It’s hard to watch someone else suffer, especially your own child, but as you know from your experience, weight struggles are usually not self-correcting. Your son’s worry about his weight is reasonable, and his desire for change is understandable. It seems there is a real opportunity for progress here.
To help sort through the immeasurable amount of background noise on this topic, I reached out to Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford from Massachusetts General Hospital and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, who recently spoke about weight and obesity on 60 Minutes. As an obesity specialist, Dr. Stanford shared some key points: “Many people don’t realize that in 2013 the American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease. I believe obesity is a brain disease that almost half of American adults suffer from. The amount of people with obesity has exploded in recent decades. Although we don’t have all the reasons for that, we know that obesity is a factor in more than a dozen cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and stroke. It is a brain disease in that our brain tells us how much to eat and how much to store, and that’s called a “set point.” Our brain will fight any attempt to change that set point.”
Read the rest of this article on Armin’s blog.