This is the first in what will hopefully be a number of posts I do where I ask professionals from different aspects of the bariatric world some questions and post their thoughts. This first series is going to focus on men and bariatric surgery… and to some extent it applies to obesity treatment in general.
It’s no secret out there that the vast majority of bariatric patients are women. Optimistic estimates put the number of men who have bariatric surgery around 20%, most doctors I’ve spoken with put the figure closer to 15%. I have had some informal discussions with others in the past about why this is, and while I was at the WLSFA Vegas event a few weeks ago, I decided I would try to ask the pros what their thoughts on this were, and so I came up with four simple questions. Of course… like so many things when it comes to weight loss surgery, it may be simple but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
So yea, I’ve put out a number of requests to surgeons, counselors, nurses, and yes… even some folks who make their living selling bariatric products. Cause see, for this particular topic, I think it sort of boils down to a marketing thing. And ultimately, be they surgeon or retails, they are marketing a product and/or service.. and use dude’s are a huge (pun somewhat intended), untapped market.
One of the first folks to respond to my email was Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. Dr. Freehoff is a family doctor and founder of Ottawa’s Bariatric Medical Institute and a prolific blogger on issues surrounding all things obesity related. I’ve been following him on Twitter for quite some time, and we’ve had some nice exchanges here and there.
I may come back at some point during this and try to explain my thoughts behind the questions I posed to these folks… not just my own thoughts on the, but also why I asked what I did, but for now I’m basically just going to cut-and-paste the responses I get. So yea, on with it already…
What do you see as the trend when it comes to men seeking weight loss surgery?
I don’t really see any particular trend. Men in general seem to seek help less frequently with weight management as a whole. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact there’s less pressure on men to lose than women.
What do you see as the barrier or barriers, internal and/or external, to men seeking out weight loss surgery?
I don’t see anything different from women though some might argue men feel more strongly that they simply ought to be able to do it themselves.
We all know the percentage of men who have weight loss surgery is rather low, somewhere around 15-20%, but it seems that when it comes to participation in “after-care” (ie. support groups, online forums, and other groups that make up the “WLS community”) it seems the numbers are even lower. Do you agree with this, and if so, why do you think this is?
Perhaps in line with last answer, or simply consequent to feeling uncomfortable in a room dominated by women.
What do you think you can do, in regards to your particular profession, to help “get the word out”, to help the men out there realize that WLS is a valid treatment for their obesity? And what suggestions do you have for other individuals out there in how they might help as well.
I think I do that pretty well with my blog – biggest hurdle to overcome is to convince patients it’s not an easy way out, it’s a valid treatment option and in fact the one with the greatest likelihood of success.
I don’t know if any of the folks that respond to this for me will come up with anything groundbreaking or earth shattering here. Even though I asked these questions, I don’t expect anyone here to give me “answers”. My immediate goal in this is to simply start a discussion. So please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts… either on the questions I asked or to Dr. Freedhoff’s responses. Expand on either from your point of view, or share your own.
Next up, some stuff from Joe Nadglowski of the Obesity Action Coalition.