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Medical News Site Healthline Claims Doctors Discriminate Against, Misdiagnose Obese Patients

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

An article published on health information site Healthline this month argues that doctors discriminate against their overweight patients.

A recently published article on Healthline, a consumer health information site, argues that doctors discriminate against their fat patients. The article, which refers to overweight people as “people of size,” suggests that “weight-centric” science makes it difficult for overweight patients to receive proper medical treatment. In fact, the author of the article suggests that obese patients should demand that their doctors ignore their weight entirely when making diagnoses.

“Weight bias can contribute to incorrect diagnoses, eating disorders, and feelings of shame in people of size,” the article’s subheading reads.

The article cites a 2012 study from the University of Washington that allegedly revealed that doctors have similar levels of “anti-fat bias” as the general public. Some believe that this bias leads doctors to make lazy diagnoses of their overweight patients. Rather than holistically evaluating an overweight patient, activists argue that doctors may incorrectly conclude that a certain medical issue is the result of the patient’s weight.

Lilia Graue, MD, told Healthline that “weight-centric” science is harming overweight patients. “So, we have a heavy dose of biased, weight-centric science that does not make room for the social determinants of health, and a broader system’s perspective that allows for an intersectional lens or a view informed by social justice and trauma,” Graue said.

The Healthline article finishes by advising overweight individuals to seek doctors that operate under the principles of “Health at Every Size” and take a weight-neutral approach to medical evaluation.

Yes, you read that correctly. Some obese Americans are asking their doctors to ignore their weight when evaluating their health.

“If can be a tough conversation to have with a provider,” the Healthline article reads. “Handing your doctor a letter expressing your wishes to not be weighed and to focus on your health without discussing weight is an alternative.”

For the uninitiated, Health at Every Size is the notion that human beings can be healthy at literately any body weight. It has seen a surge in popularity on college campuses in the past year.

On March 1, “fat sex therapist” Sonalee Rashatwar gave a lecture about “fat acceptance” at the University of Vermont. She told students to “throw [their] scales in the trash.”

Health at Every Size founder Linda Bacon spoke at Johns Hopkins University this month. Bacon’s “Health at Every Size” book introduced the argument that humans can be healthy at any body weight.

On social media earlier this month, Danish comedian Sofie Hagen accused a cancer research organization of “fat-shaming” after they published an advertisement that highlighted the link between obesity and cancer.

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