Benefits of (Excess) Weight Gain

The title of today’s post may cause many readers to wonder if I have now completely lost it. What could possibly be good about gaining excess weight?

This is actually, something I had to learn from some of my patients – the most recent story is perhaps worth repeating.

This was the case of a lady, who, after being sexually and emotionally abused as a child, as a young adult moved from one abusive relationship to the next, only to finally discover that gaining excess weight actually made her less attractive and in fact “invisible” to her molesters. Interestingly, she only fully realized the “benefit” of being grossly obese after talking to a psychologist, who helped her figure out why she had consistently self-sabotaged past weight loss attempts every time she had lost enough weight to attract compliments and attention.

I also recall the case of another woman, who, after the death of her husband, had to take over their construction business and found that her excessive weight resulted in more “respect” and less talking back from her employees. Every time she lost weight, her staff would start treating her like a “lady” and begin talking down to her – when she put the weight back on, the respect came back.

This “benefit” of weight gain is by no means limited to women. I have seen scores of men, who, as boys, struggled to gain weight to make the football team or to avoid being pushed around (believe it or not, there is a whole “weight-gain” industry out there!).

These cases should highlight the fact that in dealing with obesity, it is never to enough to ask “what” is the patient doing without also asking “why” is this patient doing that.

In all of the above cases, the solution to the excess weight problem simply cannot be addressed without first understanding the real or perceived “benefits” of the excess weight to the patient.

Edmonton, Alberta