Healthcare News & Insights

Are you making your patients fatter?

Could doctors, nurses and other health professionals be partly to blame for their patients’ increasingly large size? At least one M.D. thinks so.

In a recent column for the Los Angeles Times, Valerie Ulene argues that obese people are often assumed (wrongly) to be lazy, undisciplined or stupid. And those biases are just as common among health care providers as they are the general public.

Ulene claims that many people who hold those biases against the obese are more likely — consciously or not — to use negative tactics, like shaming and stigmatizing, to motivate people to lose weight. Not only are they less likely to work than positive reinforcement, but when coming from a health care provider patients should be able to trust, the effects can worsen whatever issues are underlying the person’s weight gain.

Worse, if the interaction with a doctor or nurse becomes too negative, obese patients who are already at higher risk for serious illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, are likely to put off medical appointments.
Do you agree that too-negative feedback from health care pros is hurting patients? If so, how should this touchy topic be addressed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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