There’s a lot of talk these days about “health at every size” and how we need to end the discrimination against people who are overweight or obese. And while that’s certainly true, there’s another group of people who are being discriminated against when it comes to their health: people who are fat.
That’s right, fat people face bias and discrimination in health care all the time, and it’s a serious problem. Studies have shown that fat people are less likely to get preventive care, are more likely to be treated with less respect by their doctors, and are more likely to have their health problems dismissed as simply being the result of their weight.
This discrimination can have serious consequences. Fat people are more likely to delay or avoid seeking care because of the way they’re treated, which can lead to serious health problems down the road. And when they do seek care, they’re less likely to get the correct diagnosis and treatment because their doctors are more likely to assume that their health problems are due to their weight.
It’s time to put an end to this discrimination. Fat people deserve to be treated with respect and to receive the same quality of care as anyone else.
There is a growing body of evidence documenting the prevalence of weight bias among health care providers. This bias can manifest in myriad ways, from making assumptions about a patient’s lifestyle and health status based on their appearance, to providing substandard care or refusing to provide care altogether.
Weight bias is a manifestation of our society’s broader prejudices against people with obesity. And like other forms of discrimination, it can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of those affected.
People with obesity are more likely to report experiences of bias from health care providers than those of average weight. This bias can lead to poorer health outcomes, as people with obesity may be less likely to seek or follow through with necessary care.
What’s more, research suggests that even when receiving equivalent care, people with obesity are more likely than those of average weight to experience poorer health outcomes. One study found that after receiving treatment for a heart attack, people with obesity were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital and to die within a year than those of average weight.
The impact of weight bias on people with obesity is likely due in part to its effects on mental health. Studies have shown that people with obesity who experience weight bias are more likely to have depression and anxiety. This in turn can further exacerbate health problems, as people who are depressed or anxious are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like smoking and overeating.
Weight bias is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. As health care providers, we have a responsibility to provide our patients with the best possible care, free from judgment or discrimination. We must work to overcome our own biases, and ensure that our patients receive the care and compassion they deserve.