by Tammy Farrell CPC, CPA, CFE

Tammy Farrell

Overweight. Bias. Stigma. Exercise. BMI. Personal responsibility. Disease. Fat. Body Mass Index. Calories. Bullying. Activity. Fat-shaming. Morbidity. Obesity. Obesity. Obesity.

Have you had enough? Has America? Has the world? Are we DONE with talking about obesity?

I was struck…dumbfounded really… by a recent conversation I had with the OAC’s own James Zervios, Vice President of Marketing and Communications. I mentioned that I was looking at attending the annual Health Journalism Conference put on by the Association of Health Care Journalists that occurred last week and that I was surprised when I looked at their REALLY LONG list of panels and discussions to find that obesity wasn’t on there anywhere as a topic. Ebola? Yes. Aging? Yes. Pre-term birth? Genetics? Yes and yes. They were there, but not obesity.

What floored me in my conversation with James was that he wasn’t surprised that obesity wasn’t on their list. I later talked with a colleague, Dr. Sarah Trainer, a medical anthropologist with Obesity Solutions (a collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University) and she too wasn’t surprised. What were they seeing that I missed?

Is mainstream journalism finished with their coverage of obesity? Has the problem gone away? Has the impact to society and our national budget decreased? Certainly not. Have we just grown weary of the topic?

It’s even worse than that, obesity is normal.

There is less obesity “news.” New initiatives, various programs, and over-stepped boundaries (should this school have sent a note home with a seemingly fit 7-year-old saying that her BMI was too high and that her parents needed to take steps to take care of it?) get the occasional 2 minutes of air time.

Celebrity surgeries are still heralded here and there. Governor Chris Christie broke his silence in an interview recently regarding his 2013 weight loss surgery saying “It’s the best thing that I’ve ever done for my health. And I look back on it now and wish I’d done it years ago.” A side note here – Governor Christie gets kudos from me for speaking up about his surgery. Too often people get the sense that unless the result of bariatric surgery is a body worthy of Vogue or GQ, it hasn’t ‘worked’. It does work people! 😉

Is obesity over-exposed in the media? Has it gone the way of Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, and the omnipresent Kardashians? If the world got too much information (or too much of the same information) I’d say no harm done. More likely though, is what I see as information frustration. People get tired of having to sift through to find the truth.

Exercise is good for you…but don’t over do it. Twenty minutes a day is perfect! Or is it 60? Didn’t we get enough of Britney Spears a while back to just roll our eyes when we heard another something she did? I know I did (and I’m glad she seems to be doing great now). Is it the same thing for obesity? Have we heard too much?

Alarm fatigue is a strange term but it comes to mind when I think about obesity and the media today. In hospitals and other medical settings, alarms go off continually when patient’s heart rates go too low…or too high…or the IV goes empty…or a patient’s TV doesn’t work for the 5th time in a row.

Alarm fatigue is when those alarms go off but it no longer carries the sense of urgency it once had. People get desensitized to the alarm sounds. They’re the norm.

In the saddest of cases the alarms are turned off or ignored.

How can we (or should we?) help keep obesity discussions from being turned off or ignored?

About the Author:
Tammy Farrell, CPC, CPA, CFE, is a professional wellness coach who specializes in working with fellow bariatric patients in Scottsdale Arizona and nationally via phone calls, webinars, and Skype. Tammy’s company, Believe In Action Coaching, provides personalized guidance, group programs, and workshops as well as free monthly support groups, newsletters and resources for her community. As a mom to two young boys, Tammy loves to keep them active and curious about the world around them.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the views of the OAC, the National Board of Directors or staff. Information contained in this blog post is based on scientific research that has not been validated. The OAC does not endorse any merchandise, program or hyperlinks mentioned in this blog post.