Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Addressing weight bias in medicine

person-with-obesity-talking-to-doctor
April 3, 2019

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Comments

Jeannie Howell
May 6, 2019

I appreciate this post and agree that physicians need to make strides to reduce weight bias, but they also need to be held accountable, and the way to do that is to advocate for legal protections for people of size. Weight bias and discrimination are increasing, and millions of Americans of larger size need the protection of the law because discrimination is happening at alarming rates. In fact, it has recently been discovered that weight discrimination has increased by 66% in the last ten years, making it equal to racial discrimination. (Fruh et al., 2016). Legislation must be created to protect patients, employees, and customers from discrimination.

Fruh, S., Nadglowski, J., Hall, H., Davis, S., Crook, E., & Zlomke, K. (2016). Obesity Stigma and Bias. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 12(7): 425-472. doi: 10.1016/j.nurpra.2016.05.013

Bill Fabrey
April 5, 2019

Dr Stanford makes some excellent points. Stigmatization of people of size is not only unfair, it is misguided. It is rare for anyone to lose weight and keep it off because they were harassed about it. That goes for kids and adults alike.
That said, I feel that part of the stigma of being fat is to have medical professionals believe that they have a disease. People come in all shapes and sizes. The definitions and cutoff weights that are associated with “overweight” and “obese” are completely arbitrary. Some experts, especially in Canada, feel that obesity is not a disease unless it accompanies a real disease. “People first” language is a good thing, but should not make it perfectly OK to insist on pathologizing someone’s larger body.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

You might also be interested in…

Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A practical, easy guide for healthy, happy living

All of us probably know some areas where we could boost our health and happiness — perhaps by exercising more, eating healthier, learning stress management techniques, or nipping a bad habit in the bud — but making a change can be daunting. It doesn’t have to be, though. This Special Health Report, Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A practical, easy guide for healthy, happy living, will show you how to incorporate simple changes into your life that can reap big rewards.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.