A Fine Balance

September 30, 2014 (old blog)

Last week I attended the 5th Conference on Recent Advances in the Prevention and Management of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity in Winnipeg.

Although a number of themes emerged from the conference (resiliency in youth, embracing cultural roots in indigenous children), what struck me most was thefine balance we need to achieve in the prevention and management of obesity.

Let me explain.

Just like the maintenance of weight status is achieved by a fine balance between energy in and energy out (at the simplest level!), clinicians and researchers working in the field need to strike a balance between effective strategies to prevent and manage obesity (e.g.,raising awareness of weight status, communicating risk factors, thwarting progression of comorbidities) and cautioning against weight bias.

A recent issue has gained attention in the media; the Moscow park bench that communicates sitter’s weight status (http://www.neatorama.com/2014/09/25/moscow-installing-park-benches-that-display-sitters-weights/?_escaped_fragment_=b3libO&mobile=no). Although I cannot speak for the inventors of the bench, I presume the idea was to provide people with feedback in a novel setting; however, the bench has been criticized for ‘fat shaming’ by openly exposing individual’s weight status.

I’m not posing a solution, or even attempting to. I do believe, however, that it is complex to develop and implement effective strategies for obesity prevention and management without inadvertently stigmatizing those who are overweight.

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