Ted Kyle Explains How Public Stigma Hinders Obesity Treatment

The general stigma and bias circulating obesity hinders the ability to improve the patient’s health, explained Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, principal at ConscienHealth. With number of individuals with obesity, patients, physicians, and payers can’t afford to think of obesity as a purely cosmetic condition.

The general stigma and bias circulating obesity hinders the ability to improve the patient’s health, explained Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, principal at ConscienHealth. With number of individuals with obesity, patients, physicians, and payers can’t afford to think of obesity as a purely cosmetic condition.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How has bias and stigma among the general public affected the treatment of obesity?

People generally assume that obesity is strictly a matter of personal choices, the product of bad choices about physical activity and diet and that gets in the way of actually dealing with obesity as a health condition. And when you get right down to it, obesity is a very complicated factor. About 50 to 70% of one’s risk of obesity is genetically determined. You can make choices that make it better or worse but that’s just like any other chronic disease. And, when that blame and shame that is so common gets in the way, it makes it hard to actually improve the health of people living with obesity.

How has the misconception that obesity is a visually apparent disease hindered treatment?

Well what happens is that a lot of health plans have had broad, blanket exclusions for obesity, thinking that it is a cosmetic condition. But, the rise in the prevalence of obesity that’s happened over the last 3 decades has made it clear that it’s creating a burden of chronic disease ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes to many cancers, and really diseases, chronic diseases of virtually every organ system in the body so you can’t really afford to think of it as a cosmetic condition. Although, people get fixated on that.