Body Weight and Discrimination

The following article is excerpted from my latest book, Matt Hoover’s Guide to Life, Love, and Losing Weight by Matt Hoover (winner of “The Biggest Loser” Season 2) and Sheri Colberg, Ph.D.

Fact or Fiction?
“Even my doctor treats me differently because I’m overweight.”

Fact. Unfortunately, studies have shown that even your health care providers (doctors, nurses, educators, and the like) are biased when it comes to your body weight. Although their prejudice may not be verbal in nature, the lack of response from professional and non-professional medical providers in responding to your needs as a bigger person (e.g., medical equipment, comfortable surroundings, properly fitting attire, etc.) is telling. In the past, studies have shown that physicians may view overweight patients as lacking in self-control, lazy, or sad. Despite laws designed to prevent discrimination based on appearance, unfavorable attitudes and practices among health care providers clearly persist when it comes to overweight and obesity, even to this day. Professionals whose careers emphasize research or the clinical management of obesity also show a very strong weight bias, and obese individuals—even if they work in health care themselves–are biased against others of the same size and weight!

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