Psychiatric Barriers

Today’s post is another excerpt from “Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Weight Management“, recently published by the Canadian Obesity Network.

This guide is meant for health professionals dealing with obese clients and is NOT a self-management tool or weight-loss program. However, I assume that even general readers may find some of this material of interest.


It is helpful to remind patients that obesity most often results from normal behaviour in an abnormal environment. Psychopathologies are not more common in obese individuals than in non-obese individuals. Psychosocial issues and psychiatric disorders can, however, predispose individuals to obesity and/or create significant barriers to treatment. As well, many of the medications used to treat psychiatric disorders may iatrogenically contribute to weight gain or difficulty with weight loss. Underlying emotional and psychiatric disorders that can contribute to the development and persistence of obesity need to be addressed if a weight-management program is to be effective.

Many different psychiatric and emotional disorders can promote weight gain or obstruct weight loss. Treatment of these co-morbidities may be needed before initiating a weight- management strategy.

Failure to recognize these barriers to treatment will reduce the likelihood of success in weight management, which can in turn aggravate problems of low self-esteem, anxiety or depression, and perpetuate emotional and psychiatric problems.

Patients with suspected emotional or psychiatric disorders may require referral for further evaluation and treatment before embarking on a weight-management plan.

© Copyright 2010 by Dr. Arya M. Sharma and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. All rights reserved.

The opinions in this book are those of the authors and do not represent those of the Canadian Obesity Network.

Members of the Canadian Obesity Network can download Best Weight for free.

Best Weight is also available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobles (part of the proceeds from all sales go to support the Canadian Obesity Network)

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