Julia* was just 22 years old when her sister dragged her – literally – to a weight loss meeting. The young woman had commenced an office job the previous year, changing her lifestyle from that of an active university student to that of a person tied to their desk for eight hours a day.
And then of course, there were nice lunches with colleagues, office birthday cakes…and before she knew it, Julia had put on 15 kilograms and felt less healthy. Her sister suggested a weight loss meeting, and Julia agreed to attend – but when they arrived, she remained frozen, inert, inside the car, until her sister finally took her hand firmly and pulled her toward the meeting.
Luckily for Julia, she had a sister who wanted to support her. But not everyone is so fortunate. For many people who find achieving a healthy weight challenging, they often discover that it is easier said than done – and it can be a very isolating experience.
Certain factors can prevent a person from getting help when faced with weight loss, such as self-blame, embarrassment about exercising in public, and potentially even sadness about their situation. (It is important to note, however, that there are many confident people living with obesity.) These factors are often overlooked as real deterrents to effective weight management for those who want to.
But Dr Georgia Rigas, chair of the RACGP Obesity Management Network, says that the effect of mental health issues associated with being overweight can impact the decision to seek medical help.