I got an email from a reader recently who asked a question I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer, so I decided to punt it to you guys instead. Of course, I might be stretching the meaning of the word “recently” when I refer to an email I received over two months ago. Sorry about that, dear reader! I got busy or lazy or both if that’s even possible. Here’s what she wrote:
A brief personal history: I’m typically in the mid-range of the “overweight” section of the BMI scale, I exercise regularly and eat fairly healthy, just a little too much of everything. But, my question concerns my role as a nurse practitioner in a college health setting. I occasionally see students who are at an unhealthy weight and I’m never quite sure how to approach a discussion. I tend to think most of us know if we need to lose weight, we just don’t always do what we need to do. I realize different people require different approaches, but I’m wondering what, if any, tips your healthcare providers may have given you that really helped in your weight loss quest. Thanks for any insight you can provide.
I replied letting her know I’d throw this one out to the blog, and I also mentioned the Health at Every Size philosophy. I believe it’s important that any discussion about a patient’s weight remain health-centered since that’s what you’re seeing a doctor about, your health, not your appearance. If you want makeover tips you can go to Sephora. It’s also possible for you to be overweight but otherwise have perfect health. For instance, I had my annual physical last month and if they gave out grades for your blood work I would have gotten a big, red A inked at the top of my report. I was told to get a bit more Vitamin D, but that was it.
The only negative impact my weight currently appears to be having on my health is that it’s stressing my knees more than if I were thinner. Of course, my weight also makes me more likely to develop health problems in the future, like type II diabetes which my grandmother got in her 60’s. (She happened to be a nurse, BTW.) So if my doctor were to bring up my weight I’d expect him/her to stick to those two topics – my knees and any future health problems.
But, let’s throw it out to you guys. What tips would you give to healthcare providers about how to have a conversation about a patient’s weight? I know many of you have horror stories about medical practitioners who handled this topic really badly.