Do Doctors Discriminate Against Overweight People?


gabby sedibeBy Staff Blogger

Are doctors prejudiced against overweight people? Studies have shown that an overweight patient’s rapport with their doctor decreases as their body mass index rises. In order to get to the bottom of why there is a bias against overweight people, we first have to look at the bedrock of human behavior.

 Dr. Steven Katz says:

 “I believe obesity bias has origins in evolutionary biology as well, related directly to the one great imperative of our selfish genes: survival. Survival, in turn, depends greatly on food and s*x. And so it is that this is a story about s*x and food. Let’s start with s*x.”

He also says that females tend to like muscular men and this doesn’t just extend to humans but to other species as well. All through history the male has been strong and been the hunter and gatherer for families, so it is in women’s genes to look for strong men that will be able to provide for their families.

 Men however look for women with certain proportions.

 “In cultural context, those proportions have been dressed up with all the mystique of s*x. But they are really a visual cue about probable reproductive success. Just as females tend to favor males who look like they can put bread (or mammoth) on the table, males tend to favor females who look like they can deliver, and nurture, babies.”

 So how does this all lead to doctors having a bias against overweight people? People who are overweight threaten the balance of life as they tend to live shorter lives and doctors become frustrated by this. Katz says that doctors need to go through training to tell them that obesity biases are wrong and unjust. Better care needs to be taken to help patients manage their weight while not chastising them for it.


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