The other day I sent around to our staff at Kartini Clinic an article on the gut microbiome (our intestinal bacteria) which is now thought to have some effect on the increasing rates of obesity worldwide. This article/video is a discussion between Dr Eric Topol (editor-in-chief of Medscape, and a cardiologist by training) and Dr Martin Blaser, of the Human Microbiome Center. The article covered new discoveries between increasing rates of human obesity and antibiotics as they affect our gut bacteria, those tiny creatures who are a part of us, who ride along with us throughout our lives, and whose own metabolism is now thought to profoundly affect our own.
My husband Steve pointed out to me that Dr Blaser speaks in his interview of people “having obesity”, not “being obese”. A subtle, non-judgmental, and in my view, a meaningful difference.
As many of our readers will know already, I’ve been collaborating with Dr Emily Cooper for several years now, trying to learn from her the metabolic consequences of recovery from starvation and/or dieting (they're virtually identical, it turns out!). I was always struck by her use of the phrase “your body weight” rather than “your weight” when talking to her patients. I commented on it once, and she agreed that it’s a subtle but important attitudinal difference. Obesity is something you have (like diabetes), not something you are.
Your body weight is a feature of your physical self, not a part of your personality, character or being. We say the very same thing about anorexia or bulimia, by the way.
I intend immediately to begin speaking in this way to our patients, parents and referring providers alike.