Act now to help end weight bias in healthcare

Weight bias is found in many places, but one overlooked place is in healthcare. Even a simple visit to a primary care physician can be discouraging if the topic of weight is not handled with respect.

In reality, healthcare is a very common place where people with obesity experience weight bias. When someone has many bad experiences, this can discourage them from making appointments in the future. This goes for all of healthcare – from primary care to more specialized areas.

Facts about Weight Bias in Healthcare

Physicians:

  • Physicians are a common source of bias. In a study about weight bias of more than 2,400 women, 69% said they felt it from physicians. 52% said they experienced bias from a doctor more than once. Doctors were the second most common source reported.

Nurses:

  • Self-report studies show that nurses often think patients with obesity are lazy, lacking self-control and bad with directions. 31% of nurses studied said they don’t want to care for these patients. 24% said patients with obesity disgust them. 12% didn’t want to touch them.

Common Challenges for People with Obesity:

  • They are likely to visit healthcare providers less often.
  • They have less access to cancer screening tests.
  • They cancel or delay appointments more often.
  • They get less time with physicians, less intervention and less discussion.

Help Educate Healthcare Professionals

More than 93 million Americans have obesity. Healthcare providers need to treat obesity seriously and understand how to address it with sensitivity and respect. This means that we need more weight bias education in training and resources. You can help make that happen! Here’s how: