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In the realm of healthcare, the number on the scale has long held an outsized influence. But recent developments and insights are challenging this traditional paradigm, suggesting a more inclusive and holistic approach to patient care.

In a poignant anecdote shared by Sarah Barak, the pitfalls of weight-focused medicine come to light. Despite requiring surgery for a torn ligament in her thumb, she was met not only with medical intervention but also unsolicited advice about her weight. This experience reflects a common theme among individuals with larger bodies, who often find their health concerns sidelined or attributed solely to their weight.

Indeed, the fixation on weight in medical settings has been associated with various adverse outcomes. Research indicates that when healthcare providers prioritize weight, patients may avoid or delay seeking care, leading to missed diagnoses and worsened health outcomes. Dr. Lisa Erlanger, a practitioner of weight-neutral medicine at the University of Washington, underscores this point, citing numerous instances where diagnoses were overlooked due to an excessive focus on weight.

Challenging existing norms and advocating for more inclusive healthcare

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Acknowledging these concerns, some in the medical community are advocating for a shift towards weight-inclusive or weight-neutral care.

The American Medical Association recently endorsed a broader understanding of health beyond body mass index, urging clinicians to consider factors such as genetics and blood sugar levels.

Moreover, practitioners like Dr. Tess Moore are championing a Health At Every Size® approach, emphasizing patient defined health goals and whole person well-being over arbitrary weight targets.

Dr. Moore’s practice embodies this ethos, with patient-centered care at its core. By prioritizing comfort and inclusivity in clinic design and eschewing weight loss as a primary treatment modality, she aims to empower patients to focus on sustainable lifestyle changes rather than elusive weight loss goals.

Her approach is supported by evidence showing the limited efficacy of long-term weight loss efforts and the potential harm caused by weight-centric interventions.

Dr. Ellen Schur, an obesity medicine specialist, acknowledges the potential benefits of weight loss for certain conditions like diabetes.

I still believe that folks who advocate for weight loss aren’t looking at the changes in behavior enough that contribute to that weight loss they are saying is the reason a condition improved.


Additionally as we know that 98% of diets fail and almost all folks regain their weight within 1-5 years of the loss, it seems even if improved health measurements were attributed to pounds lost, it would be short term.

I am curious if we had more independent research that analyzed different markers of health when implementing goals absent of weight loss, like A1C measurements after focusing on walking consistently during the week for x amount of time if we’d see the same benefits that doctors attribute to the pounds lost.

The shift towards weight-inclusive care represents a significant step forward

As we navigate the complex landscape of healthcare, it’s imperative that we move beyond weight-centric approaches and embrace a more inclusive and compassionate model of care.

The stories of individuals like Sarah Barak and so many others, remind us of the harm that can arise when healthcare providers prioritize weight over holistic health.

By acknowledging the limitations of BMI and challenging ingrained biases, we can create a healthcare system that values each patient as a whole person, irrespective of their size.

The shift towards weight-inclusive or weight-neutral care represents a significant step forward in this journey. Practitioners like Dr. Tess Moore and Dr. Lisa Erlinger exemplify this approach, centering patient well-being and autonomy in their practice.

By reframing discussions around health as defined by patients and focusing on sustainable lifestyle changes rather than arbitrary weight targets, we empower patients to take part in their health in a meaningful way.

(I always like to note that health is not the absolute goal of life, some folks aren’t able to achieve health in many ways due to factors outside their control, and health is subjective defined solely by the person at the center of care.)

Ultimately, the journey towards rethinking healthcare requires a collective effort from healthcare providers, policymakers, and society as a whole.

By challenging existing norms and advocating for a more inclusive and compassionate approach to patient care, we can build a healthcare system that prioritizes dignity, respect, and holistic health for all individuals, regardless of their size.

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