Are Pictures Distorting Our View of Obesity?

I came across this article recently, in the medical column “What’s Up, Doc?” of the Calgary Herald. The column is written by SnapDx, a team of doctors and engineers who make medical knowledge more accessible to patients and doctors.

This particular column made some very interesting points that I hadn’t thought of – and I’m guessing many of you haven’t either.

As the writers point out, if you were reading an article about breast cancer and how it affects people’s lives, you wouldn’t expect to see an up-close picture of a breast and nothing else – that may seem rather insensitive. You’d likely see a picture of a woman that portrays a sense of her individuality and uniqueness.

Yet, what type of pictures do we typically see in articles about obesity? We often see unflattering close-ups of bellies and hips.

As the writers point out, these types of pictures take away from the unique life experience of those living with obesity, and can distort our view of obesity – portraying an image of someone who is lazy, has no willpower or doesn’t take care of themselves.

This leads to a very simplistic idea of obesity – if they’d just eat less and exercise more, they’d lose weight.

However, as the writers point out, obesity is much more complex than this – it involves environmental factors such as diet and exercise, as well as genetic factors and metabolic factors. Stress, sleep and medications also play a role.

As the writers suggest, we can begin to change misconceptions about obesity simply by using pictures that represent the people living with obesity and how it affects their lives.

Something to think about the next time you see an article about obesity – as well as any articles about dieting, how to lose weight, fighting belly fat, and so on.

What's Up, Doc?: In the fight against obesity, pictures are important

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