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Fat-shaming by doctors

Many Pennsylvanians who struggle with their weight may face fat-shaming. Unfortunately, this negative behavior often occurs in doctors' offices. This type of biased treatment may have harmful effects on their mental and physical well-being.

Researchers at Connecticut College completed a review that demonstrated the problems that are caused by fat-shaming in doctors' offices. The researchers looked at 46 studies about the attitudes held by doctors about obese patients. The researchers also looked at patient reports of fat-shaming by their doctors and the health outcomes experienced by the patients.

The researchers found that patients who experienced fat-shaming by their doctors had worse health outcomes and were less likely to seek medical treatment and to trust their doctors. The doctors also were likelier to blame their patients' obesity for their health conditions, even if those conditions were unrelated to the patients' weight. Doctors were also found to recommend that patients just lose weight when certain symptoms were reported while ordering diagnostic tests for patients who were not overweight. The researchers said that this differential treatment is unethical and may lead to delayed diagnoses.

When a bias against overweight or obese patients leads the doctor to fail to order diagnostic tests, the patient may suffer serious harm. Patients whose doctors failed to diagnose their conditions or to order the appropriate tests may want to consult with experienced medical malpractice attorneys about what happened to them. Legal counsel can review the patient's medical records and, with the opinions of one or more medical experts, determine whether such failure constituted a breach by the doctor of the duty of care.

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