Dr. med. Jörg Zehetner on the problem of obesity and what it means for those affected.

As part of the lecture series of Helvetius Holding AG, Dr. med. Jörg Zehetner, Professor USC, took a stand on the stigmatisation of overweight people and the resulting consequences for those affected. In his lecture in the Saaser-Stube Saas-Fee, the experienced physician, who also deals intensively with obesity problems, described the circumstances that obesity patients have to live with practically every day.

They are among us

At the beginning of the lecture, Dr Zehetner made it clear that practically everyone knows the overweight. In one’s own family, in one’s circle of friends or in the circle of colleagues, they exist everywhere and the number of those affected is constantly increasing. And the lives of patients with obesity are not easy.

Where stigmatisation begins

Look at the fat guy! Oh, she’s fat. The fat man should exercise more. Look what he’s got in his shopping basket, and he’s already fat enough.

This is how the stigmatisation of overweight people begins. Without asking why or wherefore, without taking into account how people are personally affected, they are consciously or unconsciously pigeonholed into a category in which they neither belong nor can free themselves from it. Besides the flippant remarks, there are also those that really hurt and don’t help the people concerned at all.

Reduce prejudices

Anyone who has studied the problems of obesity and adiposity in depth knows that those affected suffer greatly from their current life situation. A first step towards at least reducing this unfortunate situation would be to dismantle popular prejudices. It’s always the best moment for that.

The fight against obesity requires a professional network

Hardly any overweight person with a serious problem will be able to successfully face the disease alone in the long term. Even though overweight surgery is now a proven and successful means of fighting the extra pounds, it requires targeted networking before, during and after the medical intervention. For this purpose, a professional network has been established under the umbrella of Helvetius Holding AG, which provides advice, support and assistance to patients in all phases.

Large social alliance against stigmatisation necessary

The topic of obesity is present everywhere. Not only in everyday life, but also in the media, people are encountering this topic more and more frequently and intensively, in addition to the commonly known jokes and remarks about being overweight. From stigmatisation, the path to discrimination is usually a very short one. Obese people are associated with a conceptual world that is anything but pleasant or appreciative. Especially when you don’t know these people personally. This stigmatisation extends far into the personal and social lives of those affected. Even professional life is not excluded. To change this, a large social consensus is needed.

Steps out of stigmatisation

If the spiral of stigmatisation and discrimination against overweight people is to be broken, a clear line is needed. And this begins precisely where obesity is understood as a disease and thus also as treatable and curable. Only then can an active approach be made to these people, who can then actively face their problems themselves without having to continue to hide.

A further step would be to significantly rethink the approach to these patients. And in every area of life and in every encounter with overweight people. Only when the stigma is taken away from these people will they themselves be able to actively enter into the process of their recovery. Dignity, respect and tolerance are exactly the right keywords here.

It is important to also perceive overweight people as valuable members of our society and to recognise that they are not lazy, sedentary, unpleasant and low performers, but sick. And something can be done about diseases, including morbid obesity.

Define obesity as a disease

Anyone who takes a closer look at overweight and obesity will quickly be able to understand them as actual diseases. As with any organic disease, there are clear definitions and developments, but also therapeutic interventions that clearly speak for a clinical picture. A first indication of this is the division into different classifications of overweight, starting from the Body Mass Index, BMI.

Although obesity surgery is a helpful intervention, it does not by itself solve the problem. Being morbidly overweight is and remains a chronic disease that requires lifelong attention, but not disparaging stigmatisation.

More in-depth information on the topic is available in the video recording of the lecture (LINK) and directly on the Swiss1Chirurgie website.