Guest Blog: My Name is Angela and I am a person Living with Obesity

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My Name is Angela Chesworth and I am a person Living with Obesity.

If a person is Overweight and wants to lose a few stone to be healthier, look & feel better in themselves etc this potentially can be achieved by reducing you calorie intake, eating healthier foods, lowering your alcohol intake, raising your heart rate through exercise will assist anybody to be healthier.

If you are a person living with Obesity you also need to focus on all of the above.

I believe if you have no knowledge, understanding or lived experience to the complexities of Obesity then it is easy to believe this strategy is the answer.

If you can achieve weight loss by Eating Less and Moving More. This doesn’t mean you are doing something better than a person who can’t lose weight with that strategy.

It simply means you have discovered what works for you and your body.

For some reason society don’t want to recognise the scientific fact that 70% of a person’s Obesity is caused by their genetics just like the colour of their eyes, hair, skin, the size of their feet or their height.
Society wants to dismiss these facts and continue with the stigmatisation that people living with Obesity are Lazy, Gluttonous, lack willpower, uneducated and don’t want to take responsibility.

This simply isn’t true.

If you have lost weight by eating less and moving more can you imagine how it would feel to put in all the hard work and not lose weight but gain?

Can you imagine then being verbally abused because of it?
Can you imagine Everywhere you go you see people staring at you, pointing, rolling their eyes, laughing at you?

During covid-19 I would guess we have all felt Helpless, Worried, Scared, Isolated, Alone. Well this is how people living with Obesity feel daily.

You may never have witnessed weight stigma & bias but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

I’ve been bullied in school,
I’ve been spat at in the street,
I’ve been verbally abused whilst working out in a gym,
I’ve been refused promotion because I “wasn’t the right image”
I’ve been told by strangers I should die so people who are genuinely sick can get help,
I’ve cried at the end of a day through mental exhaustion due to caring round by protective armour, hidden as ‘being bubbly’ ‘life and soul of the party’ ‘trying to prove my body wasn’t stopping me achieving’ ‘hiding the hurt behind a big smile’
I’ve spent years feeling a failure, And all because society thinks I should just Eat Less and Move More.

Of all my experiences some of the most damaging to me have come from medical professionals.
My first ever smear test I was asked to lay on the floor as I was too big for the examination table. I was so humiliated it took 20 years before I returned for my second smear test. I think back now at how life threatening that could have been.
I attended my GP for an Ingrown Toenail to be told “you need to go away and come back when you are not so fat”

The judgement and ridicule a person faces because of the body they live in can have such damaging effects. I simply stopped going to my Doctors for help, the anxiety before your appointment, the fear you were going to be judged as soon as you walk in the room, the feeling of complete worthlessness and failure is overwhelming.
You have already stigmatised yourself before you even walk in the room.

Something for you to think about. 
Do you really think if it was as simple as what I was eating and how much I moved I would continue to choose this life?

My hope for the future of Obesity is:-

More education for society and medical professionals.
Accountability to TV & Media for reporting facts.
Access to affordable healthy foods for All.
Access to physical education and support.
Accountability to the Obesnogenic environment we have created.
Access to treatments.

But most of all I would hope that we listen to the scientific evidence of Obesity and it be Recognised as A Disease. Which will impact all of the above.

Whilst addressing the stigma and Bias that allows Obesity to be a socially acceptable form of discrimination and abuse.

As pharmacist’s I would ask that you see people as individuals with individual needs.

Please be mindful of a person’s struggles just to ask for your help, they potentially will have struggled to find the courage to walk through your door for fear they won’t fit in the tiny consultation rooms, anxiety you will judge them as lazy, gluttonous, lacking willpower and uneducated.

In my experience it is not what you say but how you say it.

At 24 stone a GP asked me “Can we have an open and honest conversation about your health?”
She asked
“How do you sleep at night?”
“Is there anything you constantly worry about?”
“How are things at home?”

She told me “I’m worried about your weight and the effect it can be having on your health, I know how difficult it is and I want to help you, I’m here for you Angela”

This was not only  life changing but lifesaving.
I was referred to weight management, a 2 year process lead me to Bariatric Surgery, which has been not only cost effective for the NHS but cost effective for me.
A 12 stone weight loss in 12 Months, Sleep Apnea & High Blood Pressure Resolved, medication drastically reduced.
6 years post Gastric Bypass and I’m living a Happier Healthier Life.

All because my GP seen me as Angela and not an Obese Person.

Written by Angela Chesworth, Monday 3rd August 2020