Individuals affected by the disease of obesity are often the targets of weight bias and stigma in many areas of their life, such as employment, education, social situations, media, and, most unfortunately, healthcare. The healthcare provider office is the one place where individuals with obesity should feel most comfortable; however, research shows us that this is unfortunately not the case. As discussed in this chapter, while medical societies have recognized obesity as a disease and we have nationally recognized it as a health epidemic, healthcare provider-related weight bias is still extremely prevalent in today’s society. The weight bias that patients with obesity face in the medical setting is detrimental to their health and can often trap them in the cycle of weight bias, which leads to delayed medical appointments and the usage of unhealthy behaviors to cope with the disease and the weight bias. Thankfully, resources exist to educate providers about weight bias and to help them evolve from an antiquated way of thinking that obesity is solely a disease of personal responsibility and that only diet and exercise can treat it. This chapter includes a discussion of what weight bias is, how to recognize it, strategies to eradicate it, and, most importantly, a patient’s testimony, in order to help providers improve their ability to empathize with patients affected by the disease of obesity.
KeywordsObesity Weight bias Empathy Ethics Patients Weight Behavior Bariatric Dehumanize
The contributors to this chapter would like to acknowledge Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity Deputy Director, for her dedication to the research of weight bias.
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