Posted on Fri May 13, 2022 at 11:55 AM

People ‘unable to restrain themselves’: In medical consultations as in everyday life, obese people are frequently stigmatized and often have their source in ignorance of the causes of their disorder.

“I feel like I’ve been taken by a brainless piece of meat,” said Sophie, 56, who asked not to be identified.

During medical appointments “for very specific symptoms, the doctors’ first words are: + the first problem to be treated is obesity +,” she regrets, saying that she “has disappeared into her physical envelope.”

For her, society and the medical profession have a “narrow vision” of obesity: “He’s fat who doesn’t want to limit himself.” Image associated with “filth, impermanence, laziness”.

Two out of three French people consider obesity a “problem of will,” according to a February survey by startup Fedmind, which combats overall phobias by organizing focus groups. European Obesity Days are held on Saturday and Sunday.

However, far from being a matter of will, Sophie’s obesity is “a compensatory symptom associated with a psychological problem,” she explains, and the observations don’t help her get better, at least the opposite.

Obesity results from “an accumulation of conditions that people are victims of, such as metabolic disorders and mental illness,” explains AFP Nina Lahai of Fedmind. “There are more than 110 factors that contribute to obesity, it’s not a choice,” she says, but the public is misleading about it.

Sylvie Pinkmon, president of Think Tank on Obesity and Overweight (GROS), adds that “a fear of obesity means that everyone can weigh a standard weight” without taking into account, as well as “trauma and mental disorders, potential genetic predispositions.”

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Sylvian, 45, sees “three numbers” when she steps on the scale. She says she’s been overweight since she was three, “never experienced a normal weight curve.” She was in for a shock that prompted her to seek out a “food sanctuary”, but was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

“When I was a teenager, my endocrinologist told me + if you were in a concentration camp, you would be skinny. There, you stuff yourself, that’s it +,” she recalls. Throughout her education, she was a victim of stigma and it never stopped.

– ‘Unconscious stereotypes’ –

This discrimination persisted despite the World Health Organization’s alarm, on May 3, about the “epidemic of overweight and obesity” in Europe, which is faced by nearly one in four adults.

According to the Fedmind study, one in five French people believe that observations made to people who are overweight encourage them to lose weight so that they do not have to struggle.

A misconception only increases the difficulties of the victims. “The problem with these stereotypes is that they are unconscious,” says Sylvie Pinkmon. “The authors of these observations are not aware of the harm it can do, but rather prevent life.”

On the contrary, “a fear of hunger produces obesity,” adds Catherine Grangerd, psychoanalyst and author of books on the subject. “(Society) makes us think that being thin is good about yourself, it’s a very dangerous manipulation.”

In particular, she points to diets that can “lead to obesity through the yo-yo effect,” by causing weight loss to regain more.

For her part, Sylvie Pinkmon points out the “more invasive” surgeries offered to lose weight. If obesity increases the risk of serious disease, “doctors with misslophobia often miss other diseases such as cancer, which are diagnosed later,” she laments.

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The World Health Organization considers people with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30 to be overweight, and over 30 to be obese.

Nina Lahai regrets, “Society is far from underestimating fat bodies, stretch marks, and sagging breasts.” Therefore, to change mentalities, women around “dare” to appear on social networks.

An uninhibited offering that is “active hope” for her, calling on overweight people to “stay away from weight loss sites and surround themselves with people (who) look like them, telling themselves ‘I can be fat and happy”.”

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