One piece of the puzzle

In my job, weighing patients is a part of every appointment. For many this is a source of anxiety, at times joy, often disappointment. While I do record the numbers, I don’t actually care what they are. A person’s weight doesn’t tell me what their diet is like, whether they eat nutritious balanced meals or if they have disordered eating patterns. A person’s weight doesn’t tell me if they live an active life, or if they spend most of their time immobile on the couch. A person’s weight doesn’t tell me how their body is made up. A person’s weight doesn’t tell me what their blood sugar is, what their blood pressure is, what their cholesterol levels are. A person’s weight doesn’t tell me what their mental health is, what their skills and knowledge are. A person’s weight tells me how much force the earth’s gravity pulls on their body.

There are some correlations in the research between increased body and risk of various health conditions, but keep in mind that these risks are at the population level; I don’t know the true health risks of the person standing in front of me based solely on the scale reading. If weight was as important a factor in determining one’s overall health as the stereotypes and assumptions would lead us to believe, then I wouldn’t waste my time and yours by asking you all sorts of questions about your behaviours, your medical history, and your lifestyle. Your weight, my weight, anyone else’s weight may be useful in context, but stand alone, it is just another number.

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