Obesity—Willpower or Disease?

Jun 13, 2017

Obesity—Willpower or Disease?

“Trying 20 times and not succeeding — is that lack of willpower, or a problem that can’t be treated with willpower?” asked Dr. Louis Aronne, Director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian.

Research shows that diet and exercise may be insufficient solutions for obesity. It may be in your genes.

1 in 3 people living with obesity say they have never discussed bariatric surgery with their doctor. That’s a dangerous fact which could be due in part to the common misconception that obesity stems from a lack of willpower.

Dr. Donna Ryan, Pennington Biomedical Research Center obesity researcher, said “It’s frustrating to see doctors and general public stigmatize patients with obesity… We would never treat patients with alcoholism or any chronic illness this way.”

A national survey of 1,509 adults by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that Americans believe that obesity and cancer are the biggest health threats challenging the nation today.

94% of participants shared that they had tried dieting and exercise in an effort to lose weight with no results. 15% attempted to lose weight more than 20 times.

Research points to genetics as a cause of obesity. However, we still only talk about it as a risk for other diseases, not as its own treatable, medical issue.


Dr. Scott Kahan, obesity medicine specialist and Director for the National Center for Weight and Wellness, states “Doctors learn nothing about obesity in medical school, which might be why only 12 percent of those… with severe obesity said a doctor had suggested surgery to them.”

Doctors are not learning how to treat patients struggling with obesity even though the NORC survey shows that one-third of Americans are affected by it.

At University Bariatrics, we have assembled a team of experts who are passionate about helping their patients succeed in losing weight long term! We have many resources that reach beyond the usual doctor-patient relation to aid patients in every aspect of their journey. Check out the resources we provide by visiting https://www.universitybariatrics.com.

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