Healthcare Exit

AACE2021: Let’s Take Weight Bias Out of Healthcare

At AACE2021 yesterday, Fatima Cody Stanford, Patty Nece, and Ted Kyle drove a simple point home. It’s time to take weight bias out of healthcare. It harms health, amplifies health disparities, and gets in the way whenever someone living with obesity needs care.

But solutions are within reach. Proper training for healthcare professionals can do a lot, said Stanford.

Starting in Infancy

Stanford explained how early weight bias starts. Infants pick up on it. Children learn anti-fat biases from their parents at an early age. Nece recounted how she never knew a time – even in early childhood – without obesity. As a child, all she wanted was to fit in. But the biases she encountered made that quite a challenge.

However, the fact is that all that bias doesn’t make obesity any less likely. Actually, it reinforces obesity by creating stresses for the people who experience it. This makes it more likely that young people will grow into adulthood with obesity. Living with bias and stigma actually makes people sicker.

Amplifying Disparities

Because obesity has disparate effects on racial and ethnic minorities, weight bias serves to amplify health disparities. People of color experience more obesity, more complications from obesity, and have less access to care. Systemic racism affects access to obesity care. And policymakers are more interested in simplistic eat-less-move-more policies than they are in fixing the problems with access to care and systemic bias.

Start with Medical Training

Stanford hit squarely on a basic point. To stop weight bias, healthcare professionals must get their own house in order. So bias and stigma must have no place in healthcare. This is doable. Proper training for health professionals can improve the baseline of understanding obesity and mitigate bias.

Time is up. We must take bias out of healthcare.

Click here for Sanford’s presentation and here for Kyle’s.

Healthcare Exit, photograph © Sergio Santos / flickr

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May 28, 2021

One Response to “AACE2021: Let’s Take Weight Bias Out of Healthcare”

  1. May 28, 2021 at 2:39 pm, Allen Browne said:

    Go team go!!!