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If a friend or loved one suffers from severe obesity, an obesity intervention may be the most effective way to encourage the person to get treatment for the condition. In an obesity intervention, a severely overweight individual is confronted about her need to manage her condition by several people she cares about. The goal of an intervention is to assure the overweight person that those present are deeply concerned about her welfare and want to support her in addressing her health issues and eating habits.
Interventions are a technique used in the recovery movement to encourage people involved in self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, gambling, and overspending to get help. The technique is also used to encourage people with mental health issues and eating disorders to seek treatment. During an intervention, a group of friends and family members confronts the person who needs help by both expressing their heartfelt concern and offering concrete examples of how the behavior or condition is negatively affecting that person's life and the lives of others. The target of the intervention is then asked to enter treatment and offered support for that choice. The intervention group may also explain the ways in which the person will lose support if he does not follow through with the plan for treatment.
The risks of an obesity intervention are significant. Many overweight people have been the target of discrimination and cruelty throughout their lives. As a consequence, they experience great shame about their condition, and an intervention may feel like the sort of bullying they have become used to as a result of being overweight. For this reason, well-meaning friends and family members should not attempt intervention until they have spoken to an obesity specialist who has experience with obesity interventions. Failure to get professional help could make matters worse and further alienate the obese person from friends and family members.
The benefits of an obesity intervention, on the other hand, are also significant. If a person is so obese that she suffers from impaired mobility and chronic health problems, she may need strong support from friends and family to confront the situation and get treatment. Those who participate in an obesity intervention should be prepared to offer assistance to the obese person as he takes steps toward losing weight. The support may include offers to exercise together, care for pets or children while the person participates in a residential treatment program, or helping the obese person after undergoing weight-loss surgery.