Published: 27-09-2022 11:39 | Updated: 17-10-2022 17:12

Jenny Vinglid: ”People with obesity are denied health care”

Jenny Vingild
Jenny Vingild, General Secretary of HOBS. Photo: Erika Weiland

Jenny Vinglid has been General Secretary of HOBS, a Swedish patient association for people living with overweight and obesity, since 2013. According to her, people with obesity are discriminated in the healthcare system.

As told to Annika Lund (in translation from Swedish)
For the magazine Medicinsk Vetenskap no ​3, 2022 | Spotlight on health inequities

”When it comes to children, the care is completely inadequate. Some regions have too few obesity teams for children, or even none at all. It happens that children who want treatment for obesity are denied care because it isn’t available. This is totally unacceptable. It cannot be understood in any other way than that decision-makers who allocate resources in care lack basic knowledge. We meet both politicians and healthcare professionals who don’t know that obesity is a complex and chronic disease.  

As for adults, the National Board of Health and Welfare has determined that about 33,600 obesity operations will be needed over the next five years in Sweden. In reality, about 5,000 of these operations are done per year, according to figures from 2019, although the numbers have decreased since then due to the pandemic. In 2021, every third person paid for the procedure themselves.  

These are a few figures showing how it is not as self-evident for people with obesity to receive care for their disease as it is for other patients.  

We recently interviewed over 500 of our members about how they are addressed and treated by the health care services. One woman said that when she went to a gynaecologist for a pap smear, the gynaecologist talked so much and so disparagingly about her weight that she didn’t dare to go back – even though the pap smear showed serious cell changes.  

These types of negative experiences of health care are common among our members. That’s why we have had a support function in place for many years now, in which we help people gain the courage to seek care and we offer to come with them.”

About Jenny Vinglid 

Age: 43  

Occupation: General Secretary for HOBS, a Swedish patient association for people living with overweight and obesity. 

More on this topic