Fat Shaming by Doctors: Could It Be Considered Malpractice?
Discrimination by the medical community based on a patient’s weight and negative stereotypes associated with being overweight or obese can harm physical and mental health and well-being. That’s according to a research review presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
According to researchers, medical fat shaming — also sometimes called sizeism — may cause patients to avoid or delay seeking health care. Fat shaming has become more prevalent on social media and in society in general, and health care providers may fat-shame patients to get them to change their behavior, or may treat overweight or obese patients differently than average-sized patients. This can lead to psychological stress on the part of the patients, under-dosing of medications, and misdiagnoses.
“Recommending different treatments for patients with the same condition based on their weight is unethical and a form of malpractice,” stated Joan Chrisler, PhD, of Connecticut College, who presented the results of the review. “Research has shown that doctors repeatedly advise weight loss for fat patients while recommending CAT scans, blood work or physical therapy for other, average weight patients.”