Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Photo by Frenkieb
I came across a very thought provoking article by Dr David Ashton in the Guardian online yesterday. In it, he describes how obesity surgery candidates are often required to have a psychological exam in order to be cleared for surgery - something which is not required for most other types of surgery. He denounces this as a form of prejudice against obese individuals, resulting from the popular misconception that obesity is caused by an underlying psychological illness, rather than a complex interaction of biology and environment.
Neither Peter nor I have any experience with obesity surgery ourselves, which may be one reason why I was so surprised when I came across this article. Although I was aware that obesity surgery candidates are subjected to psychological screening, I was under the impression that it was to ensure that candidates were ready for the consequences of the surgery itself, as well as the adaptation to life post-surgery. In essence, I thought that these psychological exams were meant to screen-out patients if they were unlikely to benefit from the surgery in the long-term. Some people may argue that is weight bias (or even paternalistic) but it seems to make sense. Why subject someone to the physical, emotional and financial costs of surgery if they are unlikely to benefit from it?
I know that several of our readers work in the field of obesity surgery, and we would really appreciate your input on this topic - what do you think of Dr Ashton's arguments? Do psychological exams for obesity surgery candidates makes sense, and if so, should similar psychological exams be given to candidates for other surgeries? Whether you work in this area or not, let us know what you think.
For more on Dr Ashton's work, visit his website here.
And finally, I would like to wish a very happy birthday to one of our most committed readers, "Aunt" Irene.
Enjoyed this story? Share it with your friends by clicking the buttons below!
To get future posts delivered directly to your email inbox or to your RSS reader, be sure to subscribe to Obesity Panacea.