Thursday, 26 May 2011

Have we hit rock bottom?

According to a recent article in The Telegraph, doctor's will soon be paid for telling their patients that they are fat. Family doctors, the article states will: "be able to boost their income if they record giving “weight management advice” to obese patients, or offer them a free place on a diet club, which the NHS would pay for."

Quite apart from the worrying monetisation of health that is going on in our country and the fact that we know DIETS DON'T WORK for long term weight loss (but I'm not going there as we talk about this elsewhere), I'm so flabbergasted by this news that I'm not sure where to start my rant...

So let's start with the obvious: do they really believe that people don't know they are overweight (also, who defines the criteria of what is considered as 'overweight' and what is this criteria based on)? That they need a doctor to tell them?? More worryingly, we know from working with thousands of women over the years that many of them are already reluctant to go to the doctor's as so many of them have had awful experiences of being told they were fat and needed to go on diets - even when they go in for completely unrelated issues. If this approach is institionalised and people know that their weight will come under scrutiny every time they go to a surgery, how many will opt to ignore possibly serious symptoms in order to avoid the shame and embarrassment of being told that they are fat? Ridiculous!

And since when has shaming ever been an effective approach to achieve long term weight loss? We know, again from speaking to many Beyond Chocolaters, that this is often what pushed them to overeating in the first place. I know from my own experience. My mum put me on the scales aged 11 and told me I was too fat to go to the beach 'looking like that' and I struggled with being 'too fat' for the next 20 years. My self esteem, my self worth and my view of my body were crushed and distorted by this experience and the repeated variations of it by well meaning doctors, relatives, friends and teachers over the years. I remember feeling mortified, rebellious and hopeless all at the same time every time someone expressed concern over my weight. I took these messages on and made them my own so that I was also constantly telling myself that I was too fat. And how did I make myself feel better? Yep, with food. Lots of it.

It was only when I stopped beating myself up, when I stopped believing that there was something wrong with me because I couldn't control my eating and couldn't stick to a diet and keep weight off for any amount of time that things started to shift. It's not rocket science. It seems obvious to me that it's just not viable to shame people into losing weight.

Breath. Rant over.

I'm going to be writing to my local MP to tell them exactly what I think of this ridiculous scheme. Please, join me and let the government know how you feel about this too. We can make a difference if we speak up...loudly.


  1. Yes, I agree - this will not help. Added to the fact that many GPs have little to no dietary training and it gets even worse. I shall write to my MP as well.

  2. I am horrified and angry to hear this. I am aware that I prefer not to visit my GP if at all possible as I know she is going to tell me how wonderful her weight loss experience of WW has been. She has recently lost a lot of weight very fast it seems and is full of the joys. She is not at all open to hearing about Beyond Chocolate and, in the 4 minutes allocated to the appointment doesn't understandably have time.

    I wonder how long the loss will last - maybe she will, in the long run, learn something from the experience if (or when, as is more likely, she regains it plus some). Wow! I had no idea how angry I feel about this whole GP weight thing....


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