A Hypothetical Doctor’s Visit

Jasmine is waiting in the exam room and her chart shows that her weight today is up five pounds from her last visit two years ago, putting her BMI at 32. Her blood pressure was borderline high in contrast to the normal readings in previous visits. Although Jasmine’s labs were normal in past visits, they are out of date. When Dr. Johnson greets her today, Jasmine seems anxious and tells Dr. Johnson, “I almost did not come in today knowing my weight is up from the last time I was here and you suggested a diet. I feel like such a failure. However, I need help for my migraines, so here I am.” Dr. Johnson and Jasmine look at each other, there is a beat of silence, and they both sigh.

Dr. Johnson says, “You know, Jasmine, I have been reading the research on weight loss interventions and weight-cycling and I’m realizing that if the same thing happens to almost everyone, it probably is not the fault of the person, it is probably more about the process itself. So, instead of focusing on weight loss, I’m encouraging my patients to think about what makes them feel better in their everyday lives; emotionally and physically. For example, do you feel better when you eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, take a walk with a friend, meditate to relieve stress, and get enough sleep? There’s good evidence that those behaviors are going to make you healthier and feel better even if your weight does not change.”

Jasmine is a bit surprised by Dr. Johnson’s shift and says, “Well, typically, when my weight loss slows down or stops completely, I stop doing any of those things you mentioned that would help me feel better and be healthier.” Dr. Johnson says, “I understand, but we’re going to turn the focus from your weight to your health. Because those behaviors are linked to health, why not do them anyway?”

Jasmine smiles at Dr. Johnson and says, “It sure would be easier to come back and see you the next time I’m supposed to if I did not have to lose weight first.”

Dr. Johnson replies, “I do not want anything to stand in the way of you getting your medical care, including worrying that I might scold you. Now that we have a better plan, I am going to have the nurse retake your blood pressure.” Jasmine and Dr. Johnson then discuss treatment options for Jasmine’s migraines.

— from The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss published in the Journal of Obesity.

One thought on “A Hypothetical Doctor’s Visit

  1. Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    THIS is how doctors should treat patients.
    If it weren’t for the fact that my endocrine system is messed up and so I have to have labs drawn quarterly, I would never go to the doctor, because I got so tired of having everything blamed on my weight. The time that my blood pressure became elevated and I had panic attacks. Yeah–that wasn’t my weight. That was the fact that I was taking Synthroid, which my body became intolerant of. I ended up with artificial hyperthyroidism, and almost ended up in the hospital. I stopped taking all of my medications because I’d never felt so awful.
    I’m now on Armour thyroid and Cytomel instead of Synthroid. I still have to take blood pressure medication because it turns out that I have idiopathic hypertension, but I no longer get the blood pressure spikes and panic attacks.
    If the doctor had looked at my meds instead of blaming my weight, the time that I endured the panic attacks would have been lessened.
    TREAT THE PATIENT, NOT THE CHART!

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