Diet & Weight Magazine

Healthcare, Fault, and Fat People

By Danceswithfat @danceswithfat

Bad DoctorOne of the ways that our healthcare system massively fails people is when healthcare providers presented with a patient who has a health issue focus on whether or not the issue is the patient’s fault.  This is something that happens to a lot of fat people.  Though thin people get all the same diseases as fat people, when a fat person goes to the doctor they can often expect to  hear a lecture about how their health issue is all their fault, or how they would be easier to treat if they were thin – sometimes in lieu of actually receiving treatment for their health issue.

I think that the concept of “fault” is sometimes used to veil fat bigotry in healthcare.  For example, when I go to the doctor now – no matter what my issue is – it is typically suggested that whatever the issue is, it comes from being fat and so it’s my fault since I ‘let myself get fat.”   Interestingly, when I was thinner I had any number of  injuries, all of which were “my fault” since nobody needs to do the jump splits, or play multiple sports, or train to run a 5k, or ski, or do anything athletic.  But no doctor ever suggested that since my injury was my fault I didn’t deserve treatment.

Here’s the deal – unless your doctor is The Doctor and has mastered time travel during your appointment which takes place in a Tardis, then as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter why someone has a health issue, it matters what healthcare the doctor is planning to give the patient going forward.

Assigning blame and fault have no place in healthcare and serve only to increase bias, and negatively impact healthcare treatment for the people being speculated about.

I think healthcare providers should treat the patient in front of them for the healthcare issue that they have using evidence based medicine and informed consent .  I would hope that healthcare providers who don’t have what they need to properly treat fat people would be on the forefront of activism to get the tools that they need to help their patients, not trying to hide their fat bigotry in talk about whose fault fat people’s healthcare issues are or how they could treat them if their bodies were smaller.

When you go to the doctor I suggest that you interrupt conversations about whose fault something is and instead ask that your doctor focus on providing you with evidence-based healthcare for the issue that you are presenting with.  Some phrases that I find helpful at the doctor are:

  • Do thin people get this health issue?  Can I get the treatment protocol that they get?
  • Can you help me understand how suggesting that I should be blamed for [my health issue] is part of your plant to help me get better? or I disagree that suggesting that I should be blamed for my health issue will help us to treat it so let’s please move on.
  • Can we please skip over who is to blame and focus on how we’re going to treat this issue?
  • Can you give me the name of a study of a weight loss intervention where the majority of people have lost the amount of weight that you are recommending that I lose and kept it off for the long term, as well as a study that shows that doing so would have long term positive effects on my health?
  • Studies from Yale have shown that over 50% of doctors have some prejudice against people of size – do you consider yourself part of that group of doctors?

Regardless, if you go for healthcare you deserve to get care for your health, not suggestions of fault and lectures.

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