21 Jan Why Healthcare Professionals Must Weigh In
While tromping through my teenage years, I watched my peers obsess about their weight; I watched them weigh themselves daily and shriek if they gained a pound. I read articles about the realities of eating disorders and wondered if my friends had eating disorders. I worried I might develop an eating disorder. I worried about a lot of things as a teenager.
I was a chubby tweener–not quite a child and not quite a teenager. When I finally “slimmed down” as my parents promised would happen, I got in the habit of weighing myself periodically–not every day, but not every year either. I found out some interesting things: I could gain or lose 4-5 pounds in a week without feeling any difference in my clothes or in my looks. I could eat horrible things and not gain much weight, and I could eat really healthy foods and not lose weight. I held steady for a couple of decades, minus two child bearing years when the pounds packed on as desired.
And then, ten additional pounds appeared on my scale one day. I had not noticed a big change in my clothes, and I had skipped weighing myself for awhile. I figured out what happened: scrub syndrome (SS). Scrub Syndrome develops when scrub wearers do not realize they are gaining weight because their clothing rarely gets tight. I wore and still wear scrubs to work. They are loose and comfortable, and I love wearing them while practicing dentistry. But, they do have one flaw. They allow weight gain to go unnoticed–for months!
That is why all healthcare professionals must weigh in at least weekly. Not every healthcare professional wears scrubs, but many wear scrub-like clothing or stretchy waisted pants. For dentists, in particular, it is uncomfortable to bend over patients all day without some type of looseness. According to one study, it can even be unhealthy and certainly uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this is one of our work hazards as healthcare professionals. We often overlook ourselves when it comes to our health because we are too busy caring for others’ health problems.
The weekly weigh in keeps us accountable. This is not meant to serve as an obsession with weight, just as an accountability factor regarding our own health.
If we weigh ourselves and keep our BMI (body mass index) in check, it becomes easier to teach others how to keep theirs in check. If we want to do something about the growing obesity problem in our country, we must look in the mirror, first…or at least look down at the scale.
Appl Ergon. 2013 Nov;44(6):1024-32. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2013.04.002. Epub 2013 Apr 30. PubMed PMID:23642759
BMI website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
This post first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.