Each month, OC shines the spotlight on the great things our volunteers and partners are doing to improve the lives of individuals living with obesity.
Who are you, what do you do and what is your role with Obesity Canada?
My name is Kelly Moen, I have spent the last eight years studying the psychology of obesity during my undergrad and graduate degree. I focused on how obesity affects individuals, families, and communities but most of all, I poured my heart into understanding weight bias and the mental health effects that the discriminatory social attitudes towards people with obesity suffer.
I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor who works in the domain of bariatrics, eating disorders, disordered eating, self-regulation, motivation and identity. I find my preferred approach in mental health is founded in the modalities of CBT, DBT and Narrative Therapy. I am also an original founding member of Obesity Canada’s Public Engagement Committee (PEC) and currently hold the Vice Chair position.
Why did you get involved with Obesity Canada?
The initial intention to become involved with Obesity Canada was to help medical professionals understand obesity and how weight bias in the examination room affects one’s life. My involvement has grown over the years to where I now participate in Obesity Canada conferences to help advocate for change in research and making changes to Canadian policy.
I want to offer social tools of engagement and teach professionals how to approach people, who have obesity, with empathy. Increasing awareness will only help others suffering from obesity. We can help people feel comfortable engaging with their medical professionals and vice versa promoting greater outcome health-wise, not only to the Canadian population but also to the world.
Why do you think patient advocacy is important for obesity?
No one chooses to be overweight or suffer from obesity. Obesity is still highly believed to be a lifestyle choice, but I can assure you from the bottom of my being, I never chose to be affected by obesity, and I have fought to overcome my condition my entire life. I cannot tell you how many medical supervised diets I have been on, nor do I have enough fingers or toes to count all the commercial diets or gym memberships I have tried in my lifetime.
My life experience living with the disease and the devastating mental health effects from weight bias I endured has created an emotional resiliency to the point where I can no longer be shamed. I can no longer be shamed by your whispers, your looks, or, the flat-out comments you would yell at me on the street as you would drive by. My life experience destined me to become the voice for those who do not have one. This is why patient advocacy is essential, because shame will keep you silent. I am no longer silenced.
As a patient advocate, what do you want to accomplish in the next five years? What is the dream outcome for your efforts?
I want to see the suffering end and a higher level of engagement from an empirically sound medical approach to solving this dilemma. I want to see greater access to medications. I want to cultivate something more than hope, I want to see change, not just in our medical professional relationships with their patients but within our understanding of weight bias and change the social attitudes in our country. Most of all, I want to see corporations, companies, airlines, and more treat people who have obesity with dignity and respect.