The disease question
Monday, September 09, 2013
(This was my response on the discussion boards. I wanted to save it here as a blog, too.)
It's a great topic for discussion, although I definitely agree it's more than either/or. In trying to answer the question, it depends a lot on who is asking and what is their motivation?
I think it's interesting that a lot of the controversy in the media about labeling obesity as a disease is still a not-always-subtle form of blame. "If we call it a disease, then people will give up or over-rely on medical interventions." Hello, don't a lot of people do that already? But maybe even worse is the attitude of those who have been there and done the hard work to get healthy and then instead of having compassion, they sit in judgment of those who haven't yet found it within themselves to get the weight off.
I had an interesting discussion with my doctor about this topic. I was there to see her as a follow up from a fasting blood sugar over 100. I have a strong family history of diabetes and that is a disease I really want to avoid. I was frustrated and angry, mostly at myself at finding myself in prediabetes. My doctor was the one who brought up the NYT article, that said that there's a genetic predisposition to gaining weight and it's not necessarily all about lifestyle choices. She said it was a surprise to her and other doctors. That's when it hit me that she thinks I'm just lazy. She has no idea at all how hard I work to take off ounces and how discouraging it is when I slip a little bit and put on pounds.
It's been obvious to me my whole life that this is a multifaceted issue, with many causes and no simple one-size-fits-all solutions. There IS much we can do to affect our genes and our bodies, but we do NOT have complete control. Even of what we put into our mouths, because as others have stated, the food today is different than it was a few decades ago.
What I hope for in the recognition of obesity as a disease is more compassion, understanding, answers (from real scientific research) and HELP from the medical profession. I know my weight is my responsibility. I want and deserve help and understanding from my medical providers to get where I want to be.