Fork in the Road

Fork in the Road of Obesity Policy toward Paternalism

The reaction to objective data about whether people see themselves or their children as having obesity evokes a bit of paternalism from some observers. To us, it represents an important fork in the road for our response to obesity.

The paternalistic reaction is an impulse to tell people what they oughta wanna do. Good luck with that.

This path leads to expensive campaigns to persuade people who don’t see themselves as having obesity that they have a problem — even if it’s not bothering them yet. It’s a colossal waste of money that does more harm than good.

The alternate path leads to removing barriers that lie in the way of people who already have concerns about their own risks related to obesity. Plenty of people do.

But when they take action, more often than not, they are greeted with blame and shame from healthcare providers. Their health plans deny access to evidence-based treatment options that are indicated for them. They get hit with outrageous out-of-pocket costs.

It’s not such a hard choice. Sending people down a path filled with obstacles does little but foster a sense of futility. We need to remove the obstacles before we start sending them there. Once a better path is available, people are pretty smart about finding it.

Click here to read more from ConscienHealth and here to read a recent publication on the subject of recognizing obesity in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Fork in the Road, photograph © Jack Keene / flickr

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3 Responses to “Fork in the Road of Obesity Policy toward Paternalism”

  1. January 06, 2015 at 8:10 am, Susan Burke March said:

    Well said!

    • January 06, 2015 at 3:09 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks, Susan!

  2. January 12, 2015 at 10:50 am, Allen Browne said: