This book, and thus this post, is geared toward nerdy dietitians and other health professionals. We will return to our regular programming soon.
I devoured this book last weekend.
I guess I should start with another disclaimer - I have been a huge fan of the blogs written by the book's authors, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff and Dr. Arya Sharma for quite some time. Dr. Freedhoff is the medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa; his blog Weighty Matters takes a sarcastic, humourous look at how marketing and public health initiatives sadly often don't help, if not hinder, the fight against the obesity epidemic (and the Funny Friday posts are great too.) Dr. Sharma is the medical director of the Weight Wise program in Edmonton, professor of Medicine and chair of Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta and the scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network. His blog takes a much more serious tone than Dr. Freedhoff's, often featuring the latest in obesity-related research. Dr. Sharma is a real advocate for obesity as a multifactorial chronic disease.
So, even before I opened the e-book (they were kind enough to distribute it for free to Canadian Obesity Network members, and it is free to join), I knew this would be good.
Best Weight summarizes over 30 years of Dr. Freedhoff's and Dr. Sharma's combined experiences in obesity management into a practical, easy-to-read, 100 page book. (I'm not kidding when I say that it's easy to read - as someone who hates reading pdf files on the computer, I managed to read the whole thing on my MacBook on a lazy Sunday afternoon.)
In their introduction, the doctors say that their goal was to "write the book we each wish we’d had when we started out," and I'm glad that as a practitioner, I have it now. This book is not about the latest and greatest in obesity research, but it's about helping readers feel more comfortable in approaching and managing their patients with obesity, whether it is making sure that the clinic has the right furniture/supplies available to make your patients feel comfortable and want to come back and see you, factoring in all the variables (medical, psychological, etc.) that make it easy for a person to gain weight, or difficult for them to lose weight, or just knowing the right things to say as opposed to "our dietitian's going to put you on a diet plan."
I believe that different health professionals are going to get different benefits from this book - for me, the most helpful sections were "Let's Talk About Weight", a chapter on how to begin the conversation with patients and setting realistic weight goals, as well as the sections on lifestyle assessment and lifestyle-based treatment. Doctors may find the more clinical sections talking about obesity-related conditions and medications more helpful, and I've also shared the book with my clinic manager, in hopes that she will get chairs without arms and keep better tabs on the magazines in our waiting room! With sections on surgery and many different types/approaches to treatment, I'm sure that this book will be a great reference to turn back to as a person's career/practice evolves.
The most frustrating aspect of reading this book is probably seeing that this information is so important and so straightforward, but knowing that the people who need to read it are probably not going to read it. I have tried sharing the book with my colleagues at work, but haven't heard anything from them. I really hope that Dr. Freedhoff and Dr. Sharma continue their work in obesity awareness and management and I hope that people with obesity know that there are health professionals out there who do understand that it's not easy and are willing to listen and to help them work towards feeling healthy and successful.