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Dr Fatima Cody Stanford: Changing Obese Patients' Self-Perception Is Key

Patients need help shaking off the negative stigma associated with obesity and improving their self-worth before they can start to work with clinicians on treating the disease process, said Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FTOS, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.


Patients need help shaking off the negative stigma associated with obesity and improving their self-worth before they can start to work with clinicians on treating the disease process, said Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FTOS, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How can we change the conversation around obesity? What is the importance of using people-first language?

I think it’s important for us to recognize that people with obesity have a disease, so obesity in and of itself is not a condition that someone wanted to have. It’s not something they wanted to have, it’s something that they struggle with, and it’s important for us as clinicians or providers or in the health space to use different treatment modalities to help them treat the disease process.

If we don’t treat the disease process, then we’re going to inevitably have worse health outcomes, worse quality of life, more costs associated with burden on the healthcare system, and so it’s important for us to recognize that we need to do these things to help that patient population.

Often when I see patients that come in and they’re accusing themselves of being fat or looking at themselves with derogatory language, I have them change the language that they use themselves to talk about themselves before we continue with our appointment. Because I think it’s important for not only me to say that to them, but for them to begin to believe that themselves, and it’s usually undoing a lifetime of issues that they’ve been called names and they’ve started to believe these names. If they believe that, it’s going to be harder for us to make progress in dealing with their disease process. 

 
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