Fat shaming by docs likely to harm health

Washington: Discrimination at the doctor’s office based on size can take a toll on a patient’s physical health and mental well-being, a study has found.

“Disrespectful treatment and medical fat shaming, in an attempt to motivate people to change their behaviour, is stressful and can cause patients to delay seeking healthcare or avoid interacting with providers,” said Joan Chrisler, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College in the US.

“Implicit attitudes might be experienced by patients — for example, a provider’s apparent reluctance to touch a fat patient, or a headshake or wince while noting the patient’s weight,” she said.

“Microaggressions are stressful over time and can contribute to the felt experience of stigmatisation,” she added.

Sizeism can also effect treatment as obese people are often excluded from medical research, meaning the standard dose for drugs may not be appropriate for larger body sizes, Chrisler said.