Bias against the obese is prevalent: experts - Macleans.ca

Bias against the obese is prevalent: experts

Even doctors may treat obese patients differently

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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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