How to market bariatric surgery in the body positive era

Why the modern day dieter doesn’t want to hear about dieting

Our relationship with “dieting” has changed over time. Once a beacon of hope for weight-loss seekers, fad diets such as Atkins or South Beach are nearly obsolete. Women’s magazines have replaced weight loss buzzwords like “bikini body” and “skinny” with kinder words such as “healthy,” “fit,” and “eat clean.” We’re in the body positive era and claiming you’re on a “diet” is almost perceived as tacky or taboo. This attitude could impact how we market weight loss to patients.

A recent article in the New York Times Magazine, Losing it in the Anti-Dieting Age, sheds light on this modern day weight loss phenomenon. According to the article, there is a new paradigm for dieters in this country and there’s no room for any kind of body shaming.

Consider a patient interested in bariatric surgery. Society is telling them to focus on their “health” and not numbers on a scale. The way a doctor talks about weight loss could affect their decision to choose surgery. Patients may want to know how much weight they will lose, but they may be more interested in how it will affect their lifestyle. Doctors could focus on small-scale victories instead of how many pant-sizes a patient will drop.

Or, if your healthcare organization has a dieting program, it might be advantageous to focus on how much “healthier” a patient will feel instead of the visible changes they will experience. Their desire to lose weight may outweigh their desire to be body positive, but it might be hard for them to admit. To understand this more clearly, we suggest reading the NYT article by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. Hopefully, it sheds light on what it’s like to be overweight in a complicated dieting world.