Bias against the obese is prevalent: experts -

Bias against the obese is prevalent: experts

Even doctors may treat obese patients differently


Overweight people face a huge stigma, writes Harriet Brown in the New York Times, adding that some of the worst discrimination comes from medical professionals themselves: according to Yale University researcher Rebecca Puhl, who studies the stigma of obesity, more than half of 620 primary care doctors in one study described obese patients as “awkward, unattractive, ugly, and unlikely to comply with treatment,” suggesting they may even receive different kinds of medial treatment. Yet discrimination based on race, sex, or almost any other factors is considered unacceptable, she notes. Puhl said she was described at how openly doctors revealed their biases: “If I was trying to study gender or racial bias, I couldn’t use the assessment tools I’m using, because people wouldn’t be truthful,” she said. “They’d want to be more politically correct.” Indeed, last summer, cardiac surgeon Dr. Delos M. Cosgrove even told the newspaper that, if he could do so legally, he would refuse to hire the obese. Obese people tend to avoid doctor visits, Brown notes, which can create chronic stress, high blood pressure, diabetes and other medical problems. One study showed that women who believe they’re overweight suffer more from mental and physical illness, no matter how much they weigh.

New York Times

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Bias against the obese is prevalent: experts

  1. Well if they're really really obese, it's likely they are “awkward, unattractive, and ugly". A good portion will have been told to take steps to control their weight and will not have done so, making it very possible they are "unlikely to comply with treatment,”.

    The comment about being less likely to attend doctors visits was interesting, however, and if not borne out by evidence may indicate underlying impressions of laziness.

  2. The premise of this article is that a physician treating a person who has voluntarily made themselves obese differently from others is "discrimination."

    I disagree.

    The vast majority of obese people are no different from, say, smokers, with one important exception: it's far easier to give up on gorging yourself to death than it is to give up on nicotine.

    It's time to stop pandering to the idea that this is about looks, and start retooling social norms to treat obesity as the lethal and pointless indulgence it really is.

    • You think it's easy to give up a food addiction? An addiction that has to be confronted and dealt with 3 times daily, every day for the rest of your life? Well, aren't you the Mr. Smarty Pants. I take it you're a naturally skinny smoker?

  3. I completely agree. One CHOOSES to be obese. It's just lack of self control. It sickens me to watch obese people jam their face full of fast food as the rest of us exercise some self control and eat fruits and vegetables. I don't think we should pity them. If I was a doctor I would want to refuse to treat them as well. It's like treating a smoker for lung disease….why bother?

    • This is not necessarily always the case and your immediately jumping to conclusions and making negative assumptions is unwarranted and unfortunate. At any rate your disgust seems out of whack with reason – somebody is overweight and this "sickens" you?

      I obviously had harsh words for the accuracy of this survey, but looking at the comments now I wonder if there might not be an underlying grain of truth.

  4. I think most people will miss that individuals vary in their response to food. For instance, normal weight individuals tend to be more sensitive to the 'taste' of fat, and thus consume less of it. And there are dozens of other factors that could contribute to a person's overeating. It's absolutely astonishing that people believe they are a normal weight due to moral superiority.

    Due to the addictive nature of food, I think there ought to be more control on the marketing and distribution of food. We should be nudging people (and the companies that feed them) to make healthier food choices by requiring nutritional information (calories, salt, cholesterol) on restaurant menus, banning trans fats from processed foods, reducing sodium and sugar content in processed food, etc. We need to foster cultural changes in the way we eat. 'Will-power' isn't going to work for everyone when McDonalds, Coca-cola, and Frito-Lay spend billions attempting to manipulate your eating habits.

    • STOP THE INSANITY!!! According to you, it's never the individuals fault for being obese. Oh nooooo it's McDonald's, Coca-Cola's and Frito-Lay's fault….There just is no way to resist them….WHAT A BUNCH OF CRAP!!!! I suppose when someone murders someone, it's not the individual's fault, it's the gun manufacturers fault. Heaven forbid we should assume responsibility for anything we do when we can always blame society.

      • Right on JimY

      • Way to think critically, sport. I made no such assertion, but have fun tearing down that stawman.

  5. You don't choose your race, your ethnicity or your sexual orientation. You choose to be obese – at least until our esteemed courts are duped by some psychologist into setting a precendent in the mould of those found "not criminally responsible" from committing heinous crimes, of course. It will happen.

  6. Obesity prevalence is a sign of a sick indulgent unfocused society.
    I have no sympathy for obese people just as I have no symapthy for other indulgent weak willed addicts of tabacco, booze and drugs.

    These people need to get a grip. One problem is that these very same people breed more just like themselves. The obese woman who has a baby sets that baby on the path in the womb, her
    child is under a very high risk of aquiring some sort of addiction.

    • Can we lump the mind-poison of religion in there as well?

    • ….Yup!…smug, Judgemental and perfect in all ways! The all too typical Canuckguy! Ha Ha ….LOL!!!!!!!!!

      • Just telling it like it is, Rob.

  7. Yup, nobody ever jumps to foolish negative conclusions about people with obesity….

    • Bravo Mike T, for you politicaly correct stance.

      • I completely agree with you Canuckguy for telling it like it is.