07:20 PM

FNCE comment - weight stigma in healthcare must be replaced with compassion

“It’s great that health professionals are discussing the issue of weight stigma and how it can impact on patient behaviors", says Dr Jacquie Lavin.

"Research of 2,574 members of the Slimming World weight loss program found that 33% of people feel they have previously experienced weight-related discrimination at the hands of a health professional in the UK and many feel that the conversations they had about weight were rude, blunt and dismissive. Far from helping to motivate patients to make healthy changes, respondents said that things like not being taken seriously, being ‘blamed’ for their weight and not being listened to led to them feeling upset and useless and turning to food for comfort.

“Many health professionals worry about discussing the issue of weight with patients and how to do this in an encouraging and motivating way without causing offense, yet a study published in influential medical journal, The Lancet, revealed that patients found it helpful and appropriate when their GP instigated a brief 30-second conversation where they raised the issue of weight sensitively and directed their patient to an effective weight loss program such as Slimming World. Not only that, but those who were invited to attend a proven weight loss service as part of the conversation were five times more likely to take effective action with their weight loss. So as long as it is done in a sensitive, compassionate and supportive way, it really is good to talk and signpost to effective support!”

Dr Jacquie Lavin is Head of Nutrition and Research at Slimming World, the UK’s favorite way to lose weight, which has just launched an innovative online program in the USA at slimmingworld.com. She was speaking at the FNCE conference in Chicago in response to an interesting presentation on how weight stigma in healthcare can impact on patient behaviours.

​For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr Lavin email leigh.greenwood@slimmingworld.co.uk.