Voice of Mongolia

Giving Voice to People with Obesity

We are at the very beginning of a revolution in obesity treatment. A new perspective article in Nature Medicine points to this and notes that with the great power of new obesity medicines comes great responsibility to fully understand how to best utilize them. All very true. But more to the point, the greatest responsibility is to give voice to people living with obesity.

Checking in at YWM 2023 Engage, photo by OAC

For too long, these are voices that health systems and policymakers have discounted and the result has been utterly ineffective policies to address this complex chronic disease.

Yesterday, the YWM 2023 Engage meeting opened with a focus on advocacy to correct that mistake.

An Essential Role for
the Voice of People with Obesity

Click to download slides

Just as the YWM-Engage meeting was opening up in Orlando, ConscienHealth’s founder, Ted Kyle, was speaking at the 17th Annual Cleveland Clinic Obesity Summit on the essential role for people living with obesity in advocacy and policy.

Kyle talked about the mistakes that have come from silencing or ignoring the voices of people who live with obesity. Chief among those mistakes is the unwitting acceptance of false choices – false dichotomies – in sorting out our responses to address this disease.

Prevention versus Treatment

One of those false constructs is the oft-repeated belief that prevention must take priority over obesity treatment. Its corollary is the belief that behavior – diet and exercise – is the key to preventing obesity. Other drivers of the altered physiology of obesity is dismissed as incidental and unimportant.

Thus we have nearly three quarters of the U.S. population living with the altered physiology of obesity and overweight while the dominant public health strategy for addressing it is to hope that education, taxes, and pressure on the food industry will somehow kick in and make all those people behave differently. Make them eat less, move more, and be healthy.

It is like waiting for Godot. We keep waiting for the day this happens and that day never comes.

Here’s a clue from the voice of people living with obesity. We’ve been focusing on diet and exercise for all of our lives and it is not solving the problem. It is time to look deeper and to stop discounting the value of helping people with the altered physiology of obesity.

Click here for the perspective from Nature Medicine, here for more on YWM-Engage, and here for Kyle’s presentation at the Cleveland Clinic summit.

Voice of Mongolia, painting by Nicholas Roerich / WikiArt

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


September 22, 2023