In my latest Washington post article I ask the question, What if physicians stopped weighing patients?
Here are some key points from the article.
“What if doctors stopped using BMI as the trigger for conversations about behavior changes and instead collaborated with their patients on the importance of maintaining healthy habits, regardless of their weight? This approach would probably reduce body shame and weight stigma, and improve health care.”
“Health-care avoidance showed that one’s body mass index (BMI) was correlated with weight stigma, increased body shame, and rising health-care stress. Ultimately, some higher weight patients give up on their doctor visits altogether as an attempt to escape their stress and anxiety around health-care encounters.”
“Some doctors, such as Ana Paunovic, a District-based internist, are already changing the way they handle the issue of weigh. “I delay weighing new patients so I can make sure doing so would not cause harm, like in the case of clients with eating disorders or a history of body shame,” she says. Paunovic suggest that patients who would prefer a weight- neutral approach bring a letter stating their desires to their appointment. She believes many providers are still unaware that they may be reinforcing weight stigma and will respect their patients’ boundaries.”
“The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends physicians screen all adults for obesity by weighing a patient, calculating their BMI, and offering or referring patients to intensive behavioral interventions if their BMI is 30 or greater. However, the recommendation does not acknowledge weight stigma as a possible harm of the screening, nor does it suggest asking the patient for consent to do the screening. Patients have the right to decline being weighed, as with any other medical screening, but that’s not necessarily obvious since most medical practices weigh patients before they even get to see the doctor.”
Have you experienced weight bias at the doctor’s office? Please share your story in the comments below.