Who really benefits from society’s obsession with weight loss?
Weight-loss treatments are starting to become a big business. The national obsession with weight began in the early 1940’s. This is when an insurance company put age, weight, and mortality numbers to create “desirable” height vs. weight charts. This is when people began comparing themselves to the “normal” notations.
In the year of 2009, Medicare started covering some weight-loss surgeries. In 2000, about 37,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the United States. By 2013, that number rose to 220,000 surgeries. Other weight-loss treatments are piling on money for hospitals, and weight loss companies. There are many different weight loss campaigns. For example, take Jenny Craig. She uses headlines like, “Jenny Craig didn’t go to medical school”, “How weight loss improved my family practice” and “Increase your practice income by $20,000 per month”. The ads try to recruit doctors to incorporate the center’s programs into their practices. This began to happen in 2011 after Medicare announced it would cover treatments for obesity. Many weight loss programs have been on the rise and the industry has been dramatically growing. There has been many companies made like Weight Watchers, Advocare, and several different weight loss pills.
Bariatric surgery is now beginning to be safer now then they were ten years ago, but they still are leading to complications. Some of these are including eating disorders, long-term malnutrition, intestinal blockages, and death. The more weight loss is reframed as “obesity treatment” best left to medical professionals, the more doctors gain from it. Medicalization tends to lead to more diagnoses. More diagnoses lead inevitably to higher revenues and profits. It seems that a lot of profits drive a lot of the research into the treatment of obesity. Bariatric surgeons and other physicians own weight-loss treatment centers and clinics. They hold stock in or take money from meal-replacement companies and pharmaceutical makers. They own surgical practices or are partners in hospitals that do bariatric surgeries. Patients in doctor-owned clinics wind up going to (while paying for) 50 percent more office visits but getting no better care.
So who is really benefiting from the beginning to be “normal” of weight loss surgeries? The people facing obesity, or the doctors?