Bariatric patients’ body shape and weight distribution is often described as:
• Pear-shaped – weight distributed unevenly with heavier lower body
• Apple-shaped – weight distributed around the centre or torso of the body, or
• Proportional – weight distributed comparable to patients of average weight
Each body shape has unique care challenges associated with it. Different body shapes mean, for instance, that hip
width can vary considerably between bariatric patients of the same weight. In selecting equipment, although the safe working load might be adequate, the patient’s hips may be too wide for the equipment. This should be considered in choosing equipment such as beds, wheelchairs, commodes and shower chairs.
Recognition of body shape differences helps in understanding related problems, such as ambulation difficulties. It is also essential for providing optimum solutions, for instance in the selection of slings for mobile lifters or ceiling lifts.