Updated: Mar 3
"Weight isn’t just a number. It’s a story.”
Dr. Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie, Embrace You Weight & Wellness
One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, OCW 2021 hits different this year. We've seen that obesity increases complications of COVID-19. Now more than ever it's essential we address the obesity epidemic that predated COVID-19.
For Obesity Care Week 2021 (OCW) which who runs February 28th-March 6th, 2021 I wanted to focus on the life stories behind the scale. Too often during awareness weeks, as clinicians we focus on statistics and facts. While statistics and facts are essential to offering evidence based treatment for obesity, those facts shouldn't overshadow the individual stories of people with obesity. In my work with thousands of patients over the past 10 years I've found that listening to individual's unique stories and incorporating individuality into treatment makes a big difference in not just making positive wellness changes and weight loss but also keeping the weight off long term.
So for OCW 2021 I decided to start with a story behind the scale or the obesity diagnosis. Specifically the story of Jocelyn Matthews. Jocelynn Matthews is a Professional Choreographer, Dancer, Inspirational Coach, Creative Director, and Author of "Thickems & The Dance Floor: Overcoming the Negatives of Being a Plus Size Dancer."
She writes, "Has someone ever said that you can't do something because of your skin tone or weight? Dance is my answer to all those questions."
-Jocelynn Matthews, "Thickems & The Dance Floor: Overcoming the Negatives of Being a Plus Size Dancer."
As a lifelong dancer, she has had to overcome other people's expectations of what a dancer "should look like." Eventually she learned, "I would have to love myself in order to help others." But it was a journey to get there.
On OCW 2021 Launch Day we connected for a Facebook Live interview on my @EmbraceYouMD Facebook Page.
We covered several important topics
💜Body image as a Black dancer
💜Understanding healthy weight & healthy weight loss
💜Her spiritual journey & self-love journey & how that helped her embrace her body as she continues her path to wellness.
💜How to be body positive while still making weight & wellness changes
💜Importance of daily affirmations in helping shield ourselves from others’ negative opinions/ weight bias. Studies have shown that positive self-affirmations can help with weight loss and wellness by improving your openness to health information &
According to the Obesity Care Week (OCW) Website, the mission of OCW is to Obesity Care Week (OCW) aims to change the way society cares about obesity by: Providing science and clinically-based education on obesity and advocating for access to affordable and comprehensive care.” OCW is centered around World Obesity Day on March 4th 2021.
Each day of Obesity Care Week there’s a different focus:
March 1st- Weight Bias
Weight bias affects millions daily in all industries including healthcare. Weight bias exists in many forms the simplest definition is having negative attitudes and/ or beliefs to others because of their weight.
Overcoming weight bias is complex but it starts internally with self-awareness & addressing our biases. With others, compassionately listening as people share their stories helps us see past superficial such as weight.
March 2nd- Obesity Prevention & Treatment
Obesity is not a personal choice. It is a complex disease that is impacted by multiple factors including genetic predisposition, environment, and many other lifestyle factors that impact energy balance triggers weight gain. So obesity prevention and treatment has to be more than focusing on “Calories In” vs “Calories Out.” In fact prevention and treatment has to address both external factors such as environment, external stressors, socioeconomic factors, etc; and individual internal factors such as genetic predisposition, medical conditions, lifestyle, internal stressors, etc. It is essential to identify the controllable and uncontrollable factors that cause obesity to ensure comprehensive obesity prevention and treatment. Obesity is not a “cosmetic” condition. For many people obesity is a potentially life threatening disease that is associated with over 236 diseases, including cancers, diabetes, heart disease.
March 3rd-Access to Care
One third of Americans have obesity. Yet obesity treatment is lacking. 50% of people Obesity report they have never spoken to their doctor or healthcare provider about their weight. The reasons for this is multifactorial provider lack of knowledge, discomfort with discussing obesity or weight bias.
Also coverage for obesity treatment it's not universal which poses another potential barrier for obesity care. I know firsthand from my years of experience as a primary care physician and initially as an obesity specialist in an insurance based health system that you can be very difficult to get insurance companies to cover insurance for obesity care
March 4th-World Obesity Day
The goal of World Obesity Day is to “increase awareness, encourage advocacy, improve policies, and share experiences.”
The purpose of the room will be to discuss the diagnosis of obesity, personal experiences with obesity, current obesity treatment, and the future of obesity care.
March 5th-Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity 18% of children in America. Childhood obesity impacts on children physiologically and psychologically. Physiologically childhood obesity puts children at higher risk for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea. Psychologically childhood obesity puts children at risk for bullying is the encounter weight bias and stigma. Moreover, is so important to address obesity in childhood because it also is a risk factor for adult obesity as well. While Embrace You Weight and Wellness focuses treatment on adults ages 18 and older. We support our pediatric colleagues. If you would like to learn more about childhood obesity see the resources provided by the Obesity Care Week site.
March 6th- “I Care Day”
Show Your support for people with obesity by amplifying “I Care Day.” in the past this has involved recording a short video to post on the Obesity Care Week site. See the Obesity Care Website for more details
More than Just A Week
During Obesity Care Week & always, Embrace You Weight and Wellness is committed to eliminating weight bias by looking beyond the numbers on the scale and listening to people's unique stories. Weight is not just a number it's a story. I'm grateful for Jocelyn using her story to inspire and empower others. So what’s your story? If you are in need of more support addressing obesity see the resources listed below.
Embrace You Weight & Wellness Complimentary Consultation: Dr. Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie our dual board certified Obesity Expert will listen to your weight and wellness journey to provide possible solutions in or out of the Embrace You Program.
The Embrace You program helps you stop obsessing over the scale, and embrace self-love & personalized science to feel great and get to your happy healthy weight with a customized holistic, scientific sustainable weight loss strategy.
(Additional Obesity Provider Directories: ABOM, OMA and OAC)