Study: obese patients stigmatized by medical staff

Study: Obese patients stigmatized by medical staff


Humiliated and stigmatized by staff, some obese people skip medical appointments, according to a British study.

Doctors and healthcare staff have fatphobic biases regarding the weight of their patients. Such behavior leads overweight or obese people to skip medical appointments, feel humiliated, and be more likely to gain weight.

Dr Anastasia Kalea and her colleagues at University College London analyzed 25 previous studies on 'weight stigma', conducted in different countries and involving 3,554 healthcare professionals. They found “abundant evidence [of] strong weight bias” among a wide range of healthcare personnel, including doctors, nurses, dietitians, psychologists and even obesity specialists, reported. Wednesday the Guardian.

Their analysis found that a number of healthcare professionals “believe their patients are lazy, lack self-control, abusive, hostile, dishonest, have poor hygiene and don't follow advice,” Dr. Kalea.

The problem is so widespread around the world that, according to the study, medical professionals must be taught as students that excess weight is almost guaranteed in society modern and not the fault of individuals.

“Unfortunately healthcare, including general practice, is one of the most common settings for weight stigma and we know this acts as a barrier to services and treatments that can help people manage their weight,” she added.

She was “shocked” to find that during the Covid pandemic, when many services from the UK public health system have been suspended, “many patients have mentioned that they were more satisfied with online sessions for their treatments and that they did not miss any appointments. They felt they weren't being judged the moment they left home to see their doctor.”