Doctors Are Biased Against Overweight Patients, Study Shows

Just like the general public, doctors too are likely to discriminate based on weight

It’s not just the general public who tends to be biased against overweight and obese people, no matter their own weight: doctors too are, a new study has determined.

For the time being, no connection has been established between being anti-fat biased and the many complaints about weight discrimination in healthcare, PsychCentral reports but, without a doubt, one probably exists and is awaiting a better definition.

The new study was led by Janice Sabin, a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle, and was conducted on 400,000 participants, of which 2,000 were doctors.

There was no difference as regards the anti-fat bias between regular people and doctors, the study determined.

The only variation occurred where the participants’ weight was concerned, the aforementioned publication notes.

“Sabin said all the participants, including the doctors, reported a strong preference for thin people in a web-based test that measures both implicit and explicit anti-fat bias,” PsychCentral writes.

“Doctors who were underweight, normal or overweight had a strong anti-fat bias, while doctors who were obese themselves had a moderate bias,” says the same media outlet.

At the same time, it was determined that male doctors were more biased towards overweight and obese patients than their female counterparts, but this tendency was noticeable in them too.

“It is not surprising that implicit and explicit weight bias exists among doctors, similar to the general population,” Janice Sabin says of the findings of the study, which will be published in the journal PLOS ONE.

While the findings might not be groundbreaking, what we (and doctors, in particular) do with them is of the utmost importance, she stresses.

“It is important for physicians to be aware that this bias exists and to ensure that personal bias does not have a negative impact on the doctor-patient relationship,” Sabin says.

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