Are doctors nicer to thinner patients?

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11/05/2013 at 17:37

Do you think doctors are nicer to thinner patients? 

I came across this article on the NY Times website:

It seemed to me that the argument that doctors are nicer to thinner patients was mainly based on a few sympathetic things that had been said to those patients, and the fact that the overweight patients were "always told" to lose weight (even when they went to the doctor with an unrelated health concern) and they found the badgering about their weight offensive and off-putting, but also thought that the doctor didn't take their other health problems seriously. 

I think doctors should offer "unsolicited" advice anyway - surely if you went to the doctor with a cold and the doctor diagnosed a cold and another unrelated health concern, you would want them to tell you?  

11/05/2013 at 18:02

I know surgeons prefer super fit ones.

11/05/2013 at 18:06

But those two conditions aren't unrelated.  Obesity puts your immune system under strain and makes you more likely to get colds etc.

Or did I just make that up based on a sample of one?  Me.

11/05/2013 at 18:45

No, it's true. Apparently unrelated illnesses can be exacerbated or made harder to treat by obesity.


Take pregnancy for example - obese women are more likely to struggle to conceive, have miscarriages, get high blood pressure, blood clots or pregnancy related diabetes, need interventions or caesarean section, lose a lot of blood and have them or the baby or both die. They are harder to get drips and epidurals into and they are more likely to have problems witha general anaesthetic.


I try very very hard to treat all patients equally but I do sometimes get a little bit frustrated when obese people tell me that they can't help being big and anyway, stop nagging cos it's got nothing to do with x y or z problem.

Edited: 11/05/2013 at 18:45
11/05/2013 at 19:00

Being thin is no indication of your fitness and can be symptomatic of extremely poor health. Many people carrying excess weight can be healthy and fit but advice to loose weight is given because it should make them feel even better now. It should also help them avoid some of the typical problems associated with being overweight as they get older.

I do think that you would find a doctor more pleasant if he/she believed you were attentive to your wellbeing than seeing you continually for illness caused or related to, say, over indulgence in smoking, drinking or eating. Seriously all doctors' are trained to treat their patients equally but are as likely to suffer moods, stress or indifference as anyone else. Patients quite rightly expect them to be nice always.

11/05/2013 at 19:49

Are patients nicer to fat doctors?  I rarely go to the doctors, and therefore saw one yesterday that I have never seen before.  

She was both shorter and plumper than me , however, she was also very pleasant.  

11/05/2013 at 21:31

Honestly. .... I think so.

i lost 6 stone in a year starting march '12 It might be my imagination but I think doctors listen more now... Not just another fat lazy ... 


I could be totally wrong, but it does feel different.

cougie    pirate
11/05/2013 at 23:30
They shouldn't be. Everyone know fat people are jolly.
11/05/2013 at 23:38

But then friends (apparently I have a few) say I seem to have more confidence, I don't think do, but they say I have. *shrug*

12/05/2013 at 06:14


I wonder if doctors are responding to the fact that you have taken responsibility for your own health in making the big effort to lose all that weight. I noticed the same effect when I gave up smoking!

It is very frustrating when people want you to wave a magic wand and fix their problems, but not make any changes themselves like losing weight/stopping smoking/cutting down on booze etc.

12/05/2013 at 06:39

So the actual point of the article is overweight people don't like being told they are overweight? Who knew?


12/05/2013 at 07:04
booktrunk wrote (see)

Honestly. .... I think so.

i lost 6 stone in a year starting march '12 It might be my imagination but I think doctors listen more now... Not just another fat lazy ... 


I could be totally wrong, but it does feel different.

So you now weigh 2 stone 3lb's.

12/05/2013 at 07:16

Certainly, for a surgeon, an obese patient poses a lot of problems, which the patient themself may not realise- you can to to get the ones with non- urgent conditions to understand the importance of losing weight pre-op, but it is rare that anyone can really lose enough to make much of a difference, I think we find obese patients frustrating at times.

Obviusly the ideal weight is "ideal"- overly- thin patients are also a problem group, just that they are less common!

12/05/2013 at 12:00

It would be slightly ironic if it was a tubby doctor pontificating about losing weight...

12/05/2013 at 12:12

RicF: 9st x instead of 15 stone x

12/05/2013 at 17:05

I agree- Princess Leah- which is why I took up running in the first place- I can't really go about looking like a blob, and then criticise others for the same thing ( I am far from skinny!)........however, the effort I put in makes me MORE, not less critical of those who seem unable to even try- I nkow a lot of folk have genuine reasons for not being able to lose weight, but the majority just eat too much, and move too little.

12/05/2013 at 18:04

Tricialitt - once I'd posted I realised that may have come across as critical or aimed at any Dr posters on here, which it certainly wasn't intended to be, was just an observation typed in a hurry!

I also think surgery differs a bit from the example of going for a cold (!) and getting weight loss advice. Surgeons are giving advice for a specific eventuality much like advice to lose weight if consulting about heart disease, diabetes or whatever - not advice unrelated to what they are being seen for.

I got pissed off when I went to see GP about eczema and more time was spent on grilling me about why I hadn't had a smear test booked and offering to do one there and then rather than dealing fully with my eczema concerns/questions. I think it is similar - weight loss is on a tick list of advice but I wonder if someone is self-conscious about their weight it could be interpreted as being discriminated against?

12/05/2013 at 19:35

Princess Leah - I wasn't offended by what you posted.

We can't win though - if we're portly then patients say "oh, you're a hypocrite with your fat tum lecturing me". But then if we get on and lose weight and shape up then we get "oh, what would you know, you're dead skinny - it's easy for you".

I used to smoke quite a lot, I still told patients they needed to give up because I know how very very bad it is for you in so many different ways. The big difference now is I can tell people I KNOW it is hard to give up, but it is possible. I show them the app on my phone which shows I've saved well over 6 grand by giving up smoking.

Similar thing with weight loss and general fitness - I knew it was bad and unhealthy that I was getting fat and wheezy, but I still had a duty to tell my patients how their size was harming their health. The sad thing is now that I have toned up a bit, noone listens to a word I say as they assume I am naturally skinny...


12/05/2013 at 20:45

Theres lots said about people not taking responsibility for their own health/weight.  My o/h is very overweight and its still increasing.  He knows hes overweight and talks about losing it but seems genuinely confused about what are healthy food choices, ie a sugary flavoured milk drink is 'good' because its milk, but he cant see the extra calories are the same as eating a mars bar.  a flapjack is 'good' because of the oats.. but misses the inclusion of butter and syrup,  chicken salad rolls are good for lunch, but they are the size of a tea plate and smothered in mayo.  how is he so 'calorie' blind?

12/05/2013 at 21:06

MIL seemed to think that food was 'good' if it was organic.  She switched back from low fat spread to butter because organic butter was 'better' for you.  While I agree that it could be better as you are eating less chemicals, it wasn't going to help keep her weight or cholesterol levels down

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