"Real Stories of Fat Prejudice in Healthcare"


There was a recent article in Cosmopolitan entitled Doctors Told Her She Was Just Fat. She Actually Had Cancer by the incomparable Maya Dusenbery. I recommend you read it. It's chilling. 

But that article led me to discovering something else. There's a website devoted to essentially the same topic that we are, except as to how it relates to fat people (usually women). I use the term fat because that is the term the site uses. The blog is called "First Do No Harm" and they have quite a bit of resources on the topic including studies showing that doctors do, in fact, discriminate against fat people. (Is that shocking? Not one bit.)

From the Cosmopolitan article:

"Fat patients often suffer dangerous delays in getting a proper diagnosis because doctors are so quick to blame any and all symptoms — from hip pain to shortness of breath — on being overweight. 'I believe that unfortunately, in some cases, doctors use weight as a means to shift all of the burden of medical management onto the patient as an individual, rather than actually doing their job,' Allison says.

Doctors tend to treat symptoms that would be cause for grave concern in thinner patients as perfectly normal in fat ones. Cathy*, 41, tried for years to get an explanation for a host of mysterious symptoms. She pointed out to her doctors that her symptoms matched those of celiac disease, but they refused to even test her for the condition. One told her directly, 'You're too fat to be celiac.' Seven years ago, she decided to try giving up gluten anyway; she’s felt better ever since.

Another woman, Elizabeth April, 32, says she was lying in bed when she suddenly began experiencing severe heart palpitations and went to the ER. It wasn't until the doctors finally asked if she worked out, and she told them she was running up to 30 miles a week to train for a half-marathon, that they started taking her symptoms seriously. 'They were like, "Ooooookay!" And that's when things escalated. Because they had assumed it was just me being out of shape,' she says. Blood work revealed she had a thyroid condition."

Read more here.