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Are obese nurses poor role models for patients?

  • Comments (65)

Last week Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a former president of the Royal Society of Medicine, said ministers should introduce a “requirement” for all health service employers to “address obesity in their staff at all levels”.

“The staff are often quite severely obese and actually act as a very poor role model to those patients whose obesity should be being addressed,” the independent crossbench peer said at question time in the House of Lords.

What do you think?

  • Comments (65)

Readers' comments (65)

  • Making this a requirement is treading on very dodgy ground indeed. Who sets the parameters for what is considered obese enough for 'addressing'? Then again, what about extremely thin nurses, are they 'setting a good example?'. I am borderline obese on the ward chart but work full time, have not taken a sick day in 18 months and manage to motivate and encourage patients without any problems. If the patients don't have a problem with me, should Baroness Finlay?

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  • Anonymous

    The reasons behind obesity are poorly understood and linked to psychological issues/brain physiology. Research is ongoing and it is not as simple as overeating. I am of normal weight but support any colleague doing a good job. Are we going to stop nurses with mental health issues looking after mental health patients, or smoking nurses looking after cardiology patients? No. We are here to give the information and help people make better choices.

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  • Anonymous

    Is a patient who is advised to give up smoking going to listen to a health professional who stinks of cigarettes? Is an obese patient who is advised to lose weight for health reasons going to take notice of an obese health professional? Perhaps not?

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  • I'm not saying that the Baroness is right, however I do think that as an 'aging' workforce we need to take some responsibility for our own health. As we are now being asked to work longer with less staff and nursing is such a physical job anyway surely the more we can do to protect ourselves from injury/ill health the better really.

    I do think though that managers/nhs trusts could do more to promote healthy living/ look after their staff a bit more.

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  • I am an obese nurse, and I agree!!
    I feel awkward currently working on a cardiology ward where part of the advice and rehab is healthy eating and losing weight and exercise.
    But I am trying to do something about it. Would love it if there was more help from work, maybe cheaper gym memberships or access to dieticians. As a newly qualified nurse trying to get on the property ladder every penny is sacred and I can't afford a gym membership.
    However, I do also feel that I can relate with my patients and understand how it's not easy to just lose weight.
    I also think the same about smoking. There are only a couple of smokers on our ward but I think it's awful when they come back off break stinking of fags when we are trying to encourage our patients to give up.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 20-Nov-2012 3:23 pm

    Easy solution. Just remove all these flawed nurses from circulation and let's see how well the remaining work force copes with all those sick folk.

    Let's not stop at the fatties. Whilst we're at it, let's ditch stressed nurses (how can they be helpful to anxious patients?), those who drink alcohol (what a poor example they are to the alcoholics); in fact, anyone who has a demonstrable human failing. That's pretty much most of the profession.

    Perhaps not.


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  • Anonymous

    Just removing flawed nurses isn't the answer as the above poster seems to think. If nurses ate more healthily and exercised, it would help their stress levels as they would be active and healthier and better able to cope at work. I also said health professionals which means all those involved in providing care, not just nurses.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 20-Nov-2012 7:16 pm

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  • Anonymous

    The answer seems simple doesn't it? Just eat less and exercise more. Makes perfect sense to me. If it were truly that simple, then why doesn't this happen? (Because... it really doesn't!) Maybe it isn't that simple? Simply repeating the same thing over and over again obviously isn't working.

    Perhaps the mechanisms of behaviour change are a little more complicated than we seem to believe? Personal responsibility? Certainly, we must have that. smokeybabes | 20-Nov-2012 7:01 pm seems to be taking responsibility by 'trying' to do something about it and I wish you luck, smokey. And if it were as easy as eating a little less and exercising a little more, as some seem to think it is, then there wouldn't be such an 'obesity epidemic' as it is being described.

    Anonymous | 20-Nov-2012 7:09 pm has a point. There is rather a lot of smug 'fattism' creeping into the attitudes of many health professionals.

    So what to do about it? Carrot? Stick? A bit of both? Better training in and understanding of behaviour change couldn't do any harm for starters. Why don't we ask those who struggle with weight what they think may help?

    Or is it just easier, if not effective, to keep stating what looks like the obvious answer?


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  • Tinkerbell

    Perhaps fat people could wear a placard to work saying 'i am fat, feel free to kick me'.

    We can see their weakness, what's yours?

    At least they are getting up every day and going to work and contributing to society and not sitting at home wallowing in self pity on the couch but that's not good enough is it, they should be made to feel bad about it too, cos obviously they ain't trying hard enough and are giving in to that feeling of 'hunger' or empty void and comfort eating or whatever.

    There's enough health education out there but maybe it should be made compulsory for all, no food, no fags, no alcohol, no whatever could affect you mentally or physically performing at your optimum level. Hide all fat people, smokers, drinkers away from the eyes of the rest of us, we shouldn't have to look at that.

    We can only cater for, look upon those who are the 'perfect specimen of body beautiful' No NHS workers required then.

    We should all be shoe horned into 'conforming' to the dictators of what is good for you. Never mind that supermarkets, media design and engineer everyone to 'go large', Bogofs etc.,

    Talk about people in glass houses. Would you like fries with that?

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