The Obesity Action Coalition is… well here’s what they say on their website…
The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is the ONLY non-profit organization whose sole focus is representing individuals affected by obesity. Founded in 2005, the OAC remains at the forefront of the fight against obesity. From advocating on capitol hill for access to obesity treatments to publishing hundreds of educational resources for individuals affected, the OAC truly represents the voice of all those affected by obesity.
Joe Nadglowski is the President and CEO of the OAC, I first met him at the 2011 WLSFA Meet & Greet and I occasionally chat with him on things via email. He’s very active when it comes to obesity bias, recently I had sent him some info on a hospital in Texas that was using BMI as a means to disqualify job applicants and Joe was already on top of it.
I’m doing a series of posts like this, getting the thoughts of various professionals about men and obesity treatment – my first post was responses from Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. Now Joe doesn’t work specifically with weight loss surgery issues, though the OAC does legislative advocacy for WLS as a treatment option, so I was sort of looking forward to his views on obesity treatment and men as a whole. He didn’t take my questions on a point-by-point basis, but addressed things as a whole, so below is what he sent back to me. I’ve included a copy of the questions at the end as a refresher.
Been thinking about your questions about men and obesity treatment. I think what we see in bariatric surgery (15 – 20%) of patients being Men is typically what you see in other therapies as well. In fact, the commercial weight loss programs (jenny craig, weight watchers) have been trying to grow the male population using their products through recent advertising featuring male sports stars. So the reasons behind this trend are numerous. Two that come to mind nearly right away is that there are more severely obese women than men based on statistics (not sure if this is a flaw in BMI as much as an actual higher rate) and the second is that men are less stigmatized based on their weight. Many women are motivated to treatment based on the constant stigma and discrimination they face and although men face some, not nearly the same amount or with the same impact (wages are a good example, women earn up to 12% less than their normal weight counterparts but mens’ wages are the same across weights).
I did notice recently that a study that looked at those who were sicker and had diabetes for a weight loss drug had more men in the study (we typically see the 80-20 women favored ratio but it was closer to 50-50). Not sure if this was a trend or a function of how the study selected participants.
The main barriers in my mind continue to be the typical male attitude about asking for help and/or seeking medical care. Although a generalization, too many men don’t or won’t ask for help or even go to the doctor to seek medical care. This is something we need to focus on in my opinion to move more men towards treatment. I think it also applies to support group participation (notice that weight watchers is focusing on online/anonymous support group for the male population and not the typical weigh-ins at the center).
I didn’t quite follow your question order but hope the above was helpful.
And for those who are wondering, here’s the original questions I posed…
What do you see as the trend when it comes to men seeking weight loss surgery?
What do you see as the barrier or barriers, internal and/or external, to men seeking out weight loss surgery
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?
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.
Be sure to check out the OAC – you can support them by becoming a member, and check out the information on their first ever convention coming up later this year in Texas. Unfortunately, I am speaking at a local event that same weekend so won’t be making it myself, but looking forward to hearing from all of you about it.