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The Damaging Impact Of Weight Stigma In Healthcare

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For many fat people, the doctor’s office is a place where they have experienced weight stigma. The doctor’s office is a place where many fat people have experienced pain and trauma. They have been denied care, and their pain is not taken seriously. 

Have you ever been told your health would improve if you could just take soda and candy out of your diet? If you would just eat the foods in the pyramid, your health would improve. America’s obsession with fatness has resulted in medical discrimination towards fat people. 

Weight Stigma And Its Effects On Fat People’s Health

I remember visiting the doctor’s office to discuss my knee pain after riding a bike with heels, and my doctor responded with, “Stop eating Chinese food.” He spent our visit discussing ways I could lose weight. 

We can thank The Affordable Care Act  & U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for requiring the screening of all “obese” patients and enforcing that physicians get paid for having conversations about this.

I will never forget the day that I lost my nanna, and I went to the hospital for dizziness; the discharge documents stated that my visit was about obesity.

The task has been to eradicate fat people instead of making sure that fat people get the access to care that they need in order to thrive.

Covid is a great example of that. Surgeries and procedures were put on hold not because of patients’ size but because of a medical system that was not equipped for a pandemic. The pandemic also revealed that it was not prepared to accommodate the most marginalized people; the fat, the poor, Black, Disabled, Trans, POC.

When Covid first hit, there were messages everywhere about how fat people would die first from covid. Heightening the fear of fat people and concern trolling was at an all time high.

plus size woman looking at her phone in underwear STOCK PHOTO

They don’t care if we are healthy or not. 

According to the nonpartisan health care research group, the Kaiser Family Foundation, 29 states give priority to patients with obesity, and 32 states offer a bumped-up place to those with severe obesity. Those classified as merely overweight get an earlier vaccine in seven states.

Susan Milligan

Those same people turned their backs on us when it was time to get the Covid vaccine. Where was all the outrage and support for fat people to receive the vaccine? Instead of allyship from physicians & public health professionals, fat people were met with messages that fat people don’t deserve the COVID vaccine.

Fat people experience a great deal of violence based on their bodies. So many fat people have been disrespected at their doctor’s office. The weight discrimination experienced at the doctor’s office has resulted in fat people visiting the doctor’s office less. 

Healthcare cannot be administered based on biases related to size, race, gender, sexuality, or disability. The tragic death of Dr. Susan Moore should remind us what it is like to live in a body that is disposable to the medical system. 

Studies show that doctors’ bias towards fat people has an effect on their overall health.

But, there are physicians that treat fat people with care and respect. Doctors can help make a difference and support the fight against weight discrimination by signing the HAES pledge, advocating against weight stigma, taking weight discrimination training, and giving fat people the proper care that they need and deserve. 

weight stigma HAES pledge

Every single person deserves quality healthcare. Fat people shouldn’t be ignored or stigmatized for their body size. I encourage everyone to look into HAES (Health At Every Size) doctors and never stop advocating for themselves and their bodies!

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Written by Amapoundcake

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3 Comments

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  1. Being born in the late 70s, the topic of my weight was never off-limits. I grew up having my Cheerios measured and my calories counted. Countless times I heard, “You’d be so pretty if you’d just lose weight.” So started my relationship with doctors. The fear I have going to the doctor is immeasurable. This resulted in yo-yo dieting, binge-eating disorder, and a lifetime of shame. When I had two daughters, my life goal turned into making sure they love their bodies and knowing that their healthy eating habits were to have a healthy, happy life- not to stay in or out of a particular size. Thank you for this article.

  2. Thank you for this article. I will be forwarding it to my doctors..awareness. I’m not asking for any special treatment, just treat and respect me as the human being that I am and like your non fat patients.
    Ritz

  3. “America’s obsession with fatness has resulted in medical discrimination towards fat people.” Such a powerful statement. I habe had drs seem perplexed and almost upset that I don’t have health issues when my bloodwork comes back great. It really stinks. Yes we can be large and healthy!

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