On the second day of the Canadian Obesity Summit, I had the honor of being asked to act as a judge for a number of excellent research presentations during the poster session.  First, a heartfelt congratulations to all of the presenters – I was truly impressed by all of your efforts and studies, and I enjoyed each of our stimulating conversations!

A study that really struck a chord with me, and which I feel is really important to share, was a study looking at the impact of excess skin on physical activity in women who have had bariatric surgery.  The reason for doing this study is that over 70% of patients who have bariatric (obesity) surgery are left with excess skin that interferes with physical and social functioning. The research, conducted by A Baillot and colleagues at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, administered questionnaires to 26 women who had had bariatric (obesity) surgery at least 2 years prior, asking women about how their excess skin impacted them physically, psychologically, and socially.

They found that 77% of patients reported that their excess skin was making mobility during physical activity difficult, and that almost half were avoiding physical activity because of their excess skin.  What really hurt my heart was that when these women were asked why the excess skin caused them to avoid physical activity, the most common reason cited was that they were concerned about people staring at them (other reasons were hygiene concerns, weightiness of the excess skin, and a feeling of ‘sloshing’ of the skin).

My take home message from this study is that the likely development of excess skin after obesity surgery is something that needs to be discussed in detail with patients prior to having surgery, such that they are prepared for the physical, psychological, and social challenges that they may perceive or encounter.

And, as always, it is my hope that with education of our society, that any obesity related stigma that may exist out there will continue to decrease until it disappears entirely.  I was asked a lot at the summit as to why I blog – this reason would be amongst the highest.

Dr Sue Pedersen www.drsue.ca © 2013 

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