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Patients report that weight stigma makes it difficult to get treatment

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Photo By Tara Winstead

*This program aired on August 9, 2022.

Conscious and unconscious negative attitudes from health care professionals have impacted the treatment and care of people living with obesity. Patients have reported that physicians blame their weight first and treat their presenting symptoms second — if at all.

Obesity was once thought of as only a result of poor diet and lack of exercise, but now general consensus has changed. The condition of obesity was recognized as a disease in 2013.

Obese individuals are often faced with stigma or shame, which can lead to avoidance of future care and less trust in doctor-patient relationships.

In what ways should childhood obesity be addressed? How can patients advocate for themselves if they feel a diagnosis is incorrectly blamed on their weight? Is weight stigma in health care a systemic problem? What are medical schools teaching students about treating patients who are obese?


  • Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, MBA, FAAP, FACP, FAHA, FAMWA, FTOS, obesity medicine physician-scientist, associate professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. Suzanne Cuda, MD, medical director for Alamo City Healthy Kids & Families
  • Hannah Phillips, Ms, RD, LD, registered dietitian for Alamo City Healthy Kids & Families

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi