Obesity is a medical disease (not a “your fault” problem”) and recognized as such by the Canadian Medical Association. This disease is incredibly complex and incompletely understood. The disease seems to be caused by a complex interplay between gut-hormones acting and brain centres with social stressors such as abuse, poverty and discrimination piling on. All these forces pulling us back to our metabolic set-point – which in patients who are obese is a dangerous weight that leads to a whole host of other diseases – diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, depression, osteoarthritis and cancer (to name a few). Ultimately patients who suffer from this disease can have dramatically shorter life expectancies. These patients also face inappropriate judgement from society and discriminatory practices – not unlike those faced by people of color or members of the LGBTQ community.
The disease itself is both aggressive and very costly – with an estimated 1.4 billion dollars spent annually in B.C. on treatment of its complications. Unfortuantely, very little time or resource is dedicated to its treatment, largely because of the prevelance of weight bias in our society.
Treatment of the disease is complex and requires a multidisciplinary and multimodal approach with lifestyle modification, counselling, medication and surgery.