Every year at the beginning of March, there is a day dedicated to the topic of obesity as World Obesity Day. Certainly, this is not a holiday for those affected, but at least it is the day when there is a good reason to think about obesity in general and the stigmatisation associated with it in particular.

This year the focus is “Male Obesity”. This cannot simply be categorised as “gluttony” or “self-indulgence”. Male obesity has as many causes as it has manifestations. It primarily affects men from middle age onwards, who (like women) are undergoing a particular type of metabolic change.

Particularly as we get older, the body strives to store food reserves as fat reserves for developmental reasons, in order to provide for possible shortages. Especially for men who consume fewer calories than they take in due to their occupation or limited exercise, this quickly leads to unwanted excess weight. Organic processes in particular play an important role here, which cannot be “switched off” so easily.

In a special video, I personally addressed the importance of World Obesity Day. This is also due to the fact that obesity is now more common worldwide than malnutrition. The actual problem is mainly to be observed in the western industrialised countries, since it is precisely here that there is an ever-increasing surplus of food – practically at all times.

The obesity rate in the USA, for example, is around 35-40 percent of the population, which is a fact that should not be underestimated. This means an overweight of at least 20 kilograms, or a BMI of 30 or more. This is also the case despite the surgical intervention options, although these methods in particular can now be classified as very safe and successful. Nevertheless, the rate of surgical interventions needed in this particular area is far too low.

World Obesity Day is not simply about informing the public and professional colleagues accordingly. Rather, I see it as important to educate people about the modern treatment options of bariatric surgery. The primary aim is always to help patients according to their individual starting situation.

Information on the topic of obesity

It is important to understand that obesity is always associated with concomitant diseases. Diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, high cholesterol – all these manifest themselves in the environment of obesity. But there is also another aspect that has emerged, especially in recent years. The point is that people who are overweight are simply stigmatised. At school, at work and even in private life, overweight people are described as lazy, fat, greedy, careless and lazy about exercise. This puts additional stress on those affected and does not help to tackle the problem in a targeted and conscious way. Significant overweight has been defined as a disease since 2013 at the latest. This puts morbid obesity in the same category as diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and many other chronic diseases.

The stigmatisation of obesity is extremely dangerous for patients, as they then withdraw and cannot address their actual problem in a targeted and active way. Professional treatment, counselling and support is the surest way out of obesity.

World Obesity Day can help break down prejudices

Everyone is challenged to exercise some restraint in their contact with morbidly obese people, both in their choice of words and in their behaviour. To this end, World Obesity Day can create better awareness. The problem should not only be addressed on this day of the year. But such a day can help to create more sensitivity for the problems of overweight people instead of leaving them to their fate with stigmatisation and devaluation.

Why specifically “men who are overweight”?

Yes, women also suffer from morbid obesity. But men do it in a special way. There are now “curvy models” for women, but not for men. And men by nature already tend to eat the slightly larger portions, even if that seems to be gradually declining. The world view was and still is such that a belly is always subconsciously associated with prosperity. Also in modern industrial societies. The dangers are usually conscious, but are only realised when they are actually there.

In addition, after a certain stage of life at the latest, men do not have this special view of their appearance that many women have. The actual problem is not recognised, or is recognised only very late, and is then gladly accepted as natural. This means that they don’t have to go to the doctor and the obesity surgeon is an unknown quantity for many of those affected. Therefore, men in particular must be sensitised to actively face this problem. World Obesity Day provides an excellent opportunity to do this.