Connecticut College psychology professor Joan Chrisler is warning against doctors engaging in so-called "medical fat shaming" with their obese patients, which includes, but is not limited to, advising a patient to lose weight.
The professor essentially argues that fat patients are told to lose weight by their no-good fat-shaming doctors instead of recommending "CAT scans, blood work, or physical therapy" as they would for "average weight patients." Such shaming, says Chrisler, is "mentally and physically harmful," can stigmatize a patient, and lead to misdiagnosis. Campus Reform reports:
Asserting that doctors “repeatedly advise weight loss for fat patients while recommending CAT scans, blood work, or physical therapy for other, average weight patients,” she argued that “recommending different treatments for patients with the same condition based on their weight is unethical and a form of malpractice.”
Chrisler's remarks came at the annual American Psychological Association convention, where the professor gave a presentation titled “Weapons of Mass Distraction—Confronting Sizeism."
“Disrespectful treatment and medical fat shaming, in an attempt to motivate people to change their behavior, is stressful and can cause patients to delay health care seeking or avoid interacting with providers,” warned Chrisler.
The academic noted the additional "microaggressions" allegedly doled out by medical professionals:
Implicit attitudes might be experienced by patients as microaggressions — for example, a provider’s apparent reluctance to touch a fat patient, or a headshake, wince, or ‘tsk’ while noting the patient’s weight in the chart ... microaggressions are stressful over time and can contribute to the felt experience of stigmatization.
"Because of their apparent tendency toward fat-shaming, doctors 'could jump to conclusions' that a patient’s condition is obesity-related, and therefore 'fail to run appropriate tests, which results in misdiagnosis,'" notes Campus Reform.
Such problems are only compounded for those who identify with additional victim groups, such as being poor, transgender, a woman, or a minority. These intensified stressful situations create a heightened "unfairness" which "can damage people's health."
“Fat shaming is a serious concern; girls have committed suicide after being fat shamed in social media,” Chrisler told Campus Reform. “Fat shaming from health care providers can also have serious physical and mental health consequences.”
She also admitted to the publication that there was "no way to definitively prove causation for her claim, pointing out that 'it would be unethical to do such an experiment.'"
“The Goldilocks Rule has no place in the healthcare system,” wrote the professor in a recent academic article posted in the Fat Studies Journal. “It is not possible to determine a person’s health status on the basis of their weight.”
H/T Campus Reform