Everyday we see how obesity affects poor children in dramatic and difficult ways. One of the ways we’ve seen it hurt children is through words. The words that other people say, even those who mean to help, can hurt. Parents, teachers, doctors and other children can be cruel. Obese children suffer in their grades at school and have higher rates of depression, largely because of weight bias. Continue reading →
For many families living in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods, the cost of buying school supplies for the first day of school is staggering. The list that schools send home — pencils, binders, backpacks and glue — can quickly add up to a price tag well above what a family can afford. For obese kids who face weight bias in school, having the right supplies can make a huge difference in their academic success. Continue reading →
The largest organization of physicians in the country has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a decision that could encourage health insurance companies to expand coverage and doctors to take the problem more seriously.
Until now, obesity was considered a risk factor for other diseases like type II diabetes or cardiovascular disease. It wasn’t considered an illness in its own right. But last month the American Medical Association voted to categorize the symptoms of obesity – a body mass index above 30 – as a disease. The move was controversial. The delegates who made the decision overrode a committee’s opinion. But its effects could have a far-reaching impact.
People suffering from obesity are often told they are lazy and that it’s their fault that they are overweight — we see it all the time in our program. With the largest medical organization in the nation declaring it a disease, perhaps this will be the first step in changing how we all think about obesity.
Although the AMA has no direct authority to change policies, it is the largest organization of doctors in the country and its opinions don’t go unnoticed. Doctors may pay closer attention to obese patients and treat obesity more aggressively if they view it as an illness and not a lifestyle choice. Health insurance companies might be more likely to pay for obesity-related symptoms if it is considered a disease. And people suffering from obesity may take steps to improve their health if they see that they are suffering from a disease that could be treated.
Childhood obesity affects more than just body weight. Many overweight and obese children also struggle with emotional, behavioral and peer problems. Studies have shown that they suffer disproportionately from negative self-regard, diminished quality of life and some psychiatric disorders.
It’s something we see in our own program everyday. A Live Light Live Right clinic based survey found that nearly half of overweight or obese children suffered from a depressive disorder and a quarter of them met the criteria for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD.) Obese youth with these dual diagnoses require comprehensive and integrated treatment as the two conditions may be mutually reinforcing. Continue reading →
Imagine you were watching a news segment on the obesity epidemic in America and instead of a video of an overweight woman eating pizza you saw the image pictured above? How would it change your perception about obesity? How do you think it might affect how other people think about the behaviors of overweight people? A new study finds that the images we see every day of overweight people do have an impact on our perceptions. And they are often not positive images at all. Continue reading →