Professor Says Doctors Oppress Obese People with Waiting Room Chairs

Dr. Waiting Room Eric Gay / AP
Eric Gay/AP

A professor in New Zealand says that the arms on chairs in waiting rooms indicate that doctors are ill-equipped to treat overweight patients.

A senior lecturer at Massey University in New Zealand argues that doctors are ill-equipped to treat overweight patients, partially because medical office waiting rooms often feature chairs with arms. The professor, who goes by “Cat Pausé,” has a doctorate from Texas Tech University.

In a tweet from last week, the professor argued that doctors are biased against their fat patients. “Doctors aren’t taught how to palpate a super fat abdomen; most exam rooms don’t have the extra large blood pressure cuff; hospital gowns provide little coverage (or comfort) for super fat bodies; waiting rooms are full of chairs with arms,” she wrote.

“Cat Pausé” goes on to argue that doctors must be willing to adopt the “Health at Every Size” philosophy, a pseudoscience that believes that obese individuals are not at greater risk for health complications because of their weight.

“My last doctor was great — he didn’t know about HAES when we met, but he was happy to be educated (note that that responsibility fell to me as a patient, as it usually does for marginalized people),” the professor wrote in another tweet, referring to the Health at Every Size philosophy. “He didn’t diagnose me as fat. He was happy to skip the scale & shelve his bias.”

This isn’t the first time that “fat acceptance” activists have argued that doctors refuse to treat overweight patients properly. Earlier this year, the medical news site Healthline published an article that claimed that doctors have an “anti-fat bias.”

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

“Cat Pausé” has appeared on television programs around the globe to advance her position that the world is out to get fat people.


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