Are We the Ones Contributing to the Obesity Epidemic?

Let your food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”   –Hippocrates

In today’s world, obesity affects 1 out of every 3 adults.  Childhood obesity has more than doubled and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years (CDC, 2015).

According to an article from the American Journal of Preventative medicine (2014), the healthcare industry is ranked fifth out of 20 industries reviewed for having the highest obesity rates (the lowest would be in the art and entertainment world, go figure).

It raises the question how healthcare is impacting the obesity epidemic. Is it helpful to advise a patient on healthy lifestyles and nutrition when one is an overweight or obese clinician?

Obesity is a real issue, with rising healthcare costs in the billions (Finklestein, Trogdon, Cohen, & Dietz, 2009).    Has healthcare acknowledged our possible contribution?

With an estimated 5.7 million obese and overweight healthcare workers (Gamble,2014).   One can speculate that being obese or overweight is becoming an abnormal norm in Healthcare.

Can we really tell someone to lose weight or to eat healthy when we clearly need to do the same?

The rise of obesity is a call for help from the population. Where does one turn when it is in fact the healthcare industry that is suffering as well?

It is a question that perhaps is masked by our mere arrogance or denial. We are clinicians in healthcare; the rule does not apply to us. We can give advice as we are the experts, but we simply cannot take our own advice. This statement may not be true for some of us however it’s the message that we are sending.

Obesity prevention must begin in the healthcare work environment. We must work from the inside out, help our own first, so that we can help others.  We must be reminded that we are in the health and the “Healthy” industry. It is no different than what is expected of a fitness instructor being fit. Health care professionals should be healthy.

What can you do? There are so many things you can do, but most importantly there are so many things you should not do

First:

  1. Stop bringing donuts, cakes, cookies and sweets to work.

Why are you trying to sabotage everyone? Even the healthiest person will partake in a sweet treat if it is available. We do not need it; we are in an epidemic remember!

  1. Stop denying you are not contributing to the problem.

If your BMI is over 25 you are overweight, if you BMI is over 30 you are obese. Acknowledge your current health situation.

  1. Don’t be a negative unhealthy example to your co-workers by bringing in fried food, pizza, and hamburgers for lunch.

The biggest form of flattery is imitation. Being the healthy one on campus is not a bad thing.

  1. Don’t bash people around you who are healthy.

If you want to really help with the obesity epidemic encourage, support and become the role model.

Let the trickling effect of positive changes begin. The work begins with all of us!

Are you a positive influence on your co-workers and your patient’s wellbeing?

 

M.Cristina Saucedo DNP, PNP

Director of Watchers in Nutrition

Weight management for children and adolescences.