At this point, we know obesity is one of our nation’s biggest (no pun intended) health threats. If you believe, well practically anyone, it’s an issue (er, epidemic) that needs to be addressed now or we risk changing the course of health care as we know it.
But just how will we address this problem if doctors exhibit an anti-fat bias toward their patients?
According to a new study, it seems doctors are joining the rest of the nation’s general population in judgment of overweight people.
The new research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that nearly 40 percent of medical students harbor a moderate to strong unconscious anti-fat bias. That compares to 17 percent who showed a moderate to strong unconscious anti-thin bias.
And that bias erects a significant barrier to the treatment and quality of care.
Why? Because doctors are more likely to assume obese individuals won’t follow treatment plans, so they’re less likely to respect obese patients than those of average weight, explains David Miller, associate professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest and lead author of the study.
According to Miller, the goal of the study was to determine the extent of such bias among medical students, and whether they’re even aware of it. Although the study focused on just one medical school, the students were geographically diverse, representing at least 25 different U.S. states and 12 other countries.
So basically, the bias isn’t isolated. It’s a huge problem that should be really embarrassing to the medical field.