Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dietitians and Anti-Obseity Bias

This Forbes article highlights an issue amongst dietitians specifically. However, this quote mentions the bias is more widespread.

But the students aren't alone in their beliefs and share the biases with other health-care providers, Puhl said, adding that other studies have shown that many health professionals have negative perceptions about very overweight patients. Patients have reported "very many examples of providers who really make very stereotypical comments that suggest that they are making assumptions about a patient's character, intelligence or abilities because of their weight," she said.

While I can understand a sort of self-selection bias to be found amongst student intending to become dietitians, to find this idea prevalent amongst many health-care professionals is disheartening. From my research when looking into weight-loss surgery, I found that about 95% of people fail to keep weight off for 5 years after starting a diet. From here that number is questioned, but mostly by changing the definition of success, moving the goalposts. About 80% of people lose 10% of their body weight and keep it off for a year.

What makes this all the more galling for potential patients is that many of them are the sort who are trying to lose weight. They are coming into the office in an attempt to get help to lose the weight they are having trouble losing by themselves. They arrive only to be looked down upon by the person they are hoping to get help from.

Oh the perversities of life; the situation seems not too much unlike a masochist going to meet a dominatrix in her office.