Patients don't choose to be obese

Posted July 18, 2011

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Regarding: "Should doctors ever turn away obese patients?" (link): The medical prejudice against obesity, like other biases, arises from ignorance.

Obesity is far from being the volitional disorder that many medical professionals believe. Nobody in a modern Western society chooses to be obese. Once the obese state is established, the body vigorously defends against negative energy balance via multiple dysregulated systems.

No matter what one believes, the indignity perpetrated on large patients by making them stand during visits or covering them with sheets instead of appropriately sized gowns is inexcusable; the damage to a patient's self-esteem only makes the situation worse. It degrades our profession.

Finally, remember that unlike many cancers, obesity is currently incurable. It can be treated and remediated, but it cannot truly be cured.

Michael D. Myers, MD , Cypress, Calif.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/07/18/edlt0718.htm.

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