How To Find A Doctor Who Won’t Judge You For Your Weight

How To Find A Doctor Who Won’t Judge You For Your Weight

Stigma against obesity infuses many areas of life, but it’s especially damaging at the doctor’s. Your physician is likely to bring up the subject of your weight but unlikely to tell you anything helpful about it, as a recent Huffpost piece documented.

But there are good doctors out there — the trick is finding them. The Obesity Australia and Can Science Take The Weight Off has a wide variety of resources for those who are either seeking acceptance or help, including a doctor locator for those who aim to help you have a positive conversation about your weight and health.

They also have a tool to help you assess your weight and how to help put you back in control.

Over on Obesity Care Providers is a checklist of what to look for in a health care provider, which can help you figure out if a doctor—from their list or one you find elsewhere — is likely to be understanding and helpful.

For example, an easy tell is how they speak about weight issues. Do they use people-first language and treat you as an individual? The Obesity Action Coalition in America says:

Words such as “fat” or “obese” label individuals with their disease/condition. Look for providers that use respectful language when discussing weight. For example: “You are affected by obesity. Let’s work together on developing a health plan that fits your needs.”

You can also ask, before you make an appointment, about equipment and supplies in their office. Do they have waiting room seating that accommodates people of all sizes? Do they have gowns, scales, and blood pressure cuffs that will fit you? Squeezing into a too-small cuff can affect the reading, so the proper equipment is important to your health care even apart from how it makes you feel.


  • Is this for real? If you’re obese – which has a clinical definition, then your doctor needs to tell you. There is no such thing as ‘health at every size’ or body positivity when it comes to this. All of the clinical research is conclusive: being fat or obese is very bad for your health. Trying to modify language to soften that blow isn’t going to do you any favours – at the end of the day, you’re still obese and need to change, or you’re going to die from the comorbidities from it. Clinicians judge you – that’s our job.

    Do they have gowns, scales, and blood pressure cuffs that will fit you?This is a real struggle, because 10 years ago when I started in healthcare, we’d use the ‘thigh’ BP cuff for obese patients – and now in some cases that’s insufficient, particularly depending on the shape of their upper arm. What was once specialist bariatric equipment that was specifically made for the purpose is now becoming standard equipment. This is absolutely terrifying.

    • The title of this article made me think it was going to be about something else entirely – that is, a Doctor bringing up the subject of your weight in an unrelated consultation.

      I remember a few years ago I saw a Doctor about pain I was experiencing in my hand. I only cared about the hand and I was only interested in a diagnoses and what I could do to treat it. The Doctor still found it necessary to bring up the subject of my weight, even though I was not overweight by any stretch of the imagination. I’d put on a few kilos admittedly since I stopped playing sport a couple of years prior, but it was nothing huge and I was still in the (upper) range of healthy for my height and age. I gave a polite answer but I was not impressed. That was totally needless to do and completely irrelevant to my hand. But THAT’s what I thought this article was going to be about by reading the title.

      Instead it’s an article about trying to find a Doctor that’ll soften the blow and talk nicer to you if you’re obese. And I totally agree with you in that case – if you’re obese, and you want to speak to the Doctor specifically about that fact, the Doctor shouldn’t be sugar coating anything. If I was affected by a potentially life threatening condition I’d want them to tell me plain and straight.

  • One of the issues is that some doctors cant see past weight issues to actually diagnose other unrelated health problems that the patient needs help with. Sometimes the other problem is even contributing to the patient being overweight.

    its not that the patient and doctor shouldn’t be concerned about the weight and work on losing it, but that the patient has a right to medical treatment (and respect) in the mean time.

  • Being obese is not healthy.

    If you can’t handle being told that you are obese the problem is with you, not the doctor. The big problem these days though is the social shift to try and make obesity socially acceptable.

    Obesity is not something that should be praised.

    • As other commenters have stated, it’s not about being told you’re obese (if you are, you likely know it), it’s more about going to a GP for something else and them advising you about the obesity instead.

      For example, I know I’m obese (I’m working on it) but I’ve always gotten boughts of back pain for as long as I can remember even before becoming obese. One time was especially bad so I went to the GP to try and find a more permanent solution/diagnosis of the actual issue. He could not see past the obesity and prescribed some painkillers while referring me to a dietitian.
      A few days later, I went to an osteopath (I was getting desperate) who did some specific stretches and taught me some specific things I should be doing (how I hold my body as I sit down for instance). The pain faded out over the next week or so and hasn’t been back since.

      Yes my obesity is an issue, and likely contributed to the especially bad back pain, but that wasn’t what I went to the GP for, and he couldn’t see past it.

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