Person-first, Dr Lazarus shares his perspective on preventive approach to tackling obesity
The numbers, so commonly cited, remain staggering. Obesity affects more than one in three American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also often associated with 236 comorbidities, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and 13 different cancers. Yet physicians and other health professionals are too often hesitant to have open discussions about obesity with patients.
This uncharacteristic physician reticence was explored in a recent education session by Ethan Lazarus, MD, who reviewed current concepts in obesity medicine. Dr. Lazarus, the son of 2012–2013 AMA President Jeremy Lazarus, MD, is the secretary/treasurer of the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA). Practicing in suburban Denver, he specializes in helping individuals lose weight and live happier, healthier lives.
To overcome the stigma associated with obesity, Dr. Lazarus recommended opening the conversation and using person-first language (e.g. refer to a “patient with obesity,” instead of an “obese patient”). This can be performed if physicians begin to look at obesity like diabetes—there’s pre-obesity and obesity. It isn’t two separate diseases, but similar to diabetes, it allows physicians to provide measures to prevent obesity. By choosing the right approach, physicians can begin to address obesity with their patients without feeling uncomfortable.