Why We Hate Fat Patients
Why We Hate Fat Patients
Carl Streed Jr, Medical Student, 10:14AM Oct 6, 2012
"This one's a porker."-Surgery Attending
The patient had just been anaesthetised when the attending, a senior gentleman, pinched the patient's stomach and commented about her weight. It was my first time in the OR, many months ago, and I recall being shocked by what I'd just witnessed and heard. Paralyzed to act in that way all too common for medical students, bottom of the totem pole and all, I remained silent.
Recently, during a surgical oncology case, the patient was sitting on the bed preparing to be anaesthetised and said, "I'm sorry I let myself get this way;" she was referring to her 35+ BMI (reminding me of What's Eating Gilbert Grape--"I wasn't always this way'). Sadly, the patient's apology fell on deaf ears as the residents' sighed about how much subcutaneous fat they had to go through to reach the ovarian mass.
"...almost two in three adults are overweight or obese, and diseases caused by obesity cost Americans $145 billion last year...?"
There are plenty of studies out that connect obesity with disease (eg diabetes mellitus type II, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, et cetera), and we all know the number of adults and children who are considered overweight or obese continues to grow. Yet, the way we talk to patients, or about patients, does not seem to be motivated by statistics and prospective studies. Medical professionals, which I now count myself among, talk about their overwieght and obese patients from a place of disgust.
"How could they let themselves get that way?" or
"They're eating themselves to death!" or
"I'm sorry about your weight."
Do I want people to be healthy? Yes. Do I think being obese is a danger to one's health? Yes. Do I think degrading patients, demonizing their bodies, and finding them morally reprehensible for having a BMI over 25 will help them? Emphatically no.
There are a million different kinds of fat people in the world because FAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. And kids are people. And if your solution to this "problem" is telling already vulnerable fat kids that they're an epidemic that's ruining the world, then **** you. Try harder.
We have to try harder and stop hating our patients.
This post only scratches the surface of this issue. The "obesity epidemic" is multifaceted, and to think there is one solution is naive.
Disclaimer: I reached a BMI of 32 in my youth before plummeting to below 25. I experienced and continue to experience the psychological slings & arrows of peers and the medical profession for my weight.