Finally, in this series of common misconceptions about obesity management, discussed in our article in Canadian Family Physician, we address the notion that success in obesity management is best measured in the amount of weight loss:
“Given the importance of obesity as a public health problem, there is widespread effort to encourage people with excess weight to attempt weight loss.
However, a growing body of evidence suggests that a focus on weight loss as an indicator of success is not only ineffective at producing thinner, healthier bodies, but could also be damaging, contributing to food and body preoccupation, repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, reduced self-esteem, eating disorders, and social weight stigmatization and discrimination.
There is also concern that “anti-fat” talk in public health campaigns might further promote weight bias and discrimination.
Therefore, it might be time to shift the focus away from body weight to health and wellness in public health interventions.
Recently, the Canadian Obesity Network launched a tool called the 5As of Obesity Management (www.obesitynetwork.ca/5As) to guide primary care practitioners in obesity counseling and management.
Minimal intervention strategies such as the 5 As (ask, assess, advise, agree, and assist) can guide the process of counseling a patient about behaviour change and can be implemented in busy practice settings.
Obesity management should focus on promoting healthier behaviour rather than simply reducing numbers on the scale. The 5As of Obesity Management is a practical tool to improve the success of weight management within primary care.”