Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

That you’re overweight or obese and need to lose weight? Apparently a woman in New Hampshire was mightily offended by her physician’s rather direct comments. She’s filed a lawsuit, and apparently the doctor has been ordered to become more educated.

Well, how many times have we been told that we’re overweight? I can’t begin to tell you. It actually got to the point that I’d look at some of these doctors and say something like, “Really? Do you think so?” And then they’d generally realize that I knew and understood the issue, in ways that they probably could not imagine. In fact, after a point, I refused to get on the scale. We all knew I was seriously overweight, so whether I’d gained or lost 5 pounds wasn’t going to make a bit of difference in recommendations, outcome, or treatment plan.

But what’s the issue here? I doubt that it’s about the truth. After all, the woman more than likely noticed that she was heavier than she should be. Apparently, he gave her clear, directions, which were to join a group, a support group, and to work hard at it. She didn’t want to hear it, and probably wasn’t ready to listen. We’ve all been there.
Until we’re ready to do something, to find our own paths, it doesn’t matter what anyone says.

Remember the Stages of Change? Pre-contemplation, contemplation, action, and maintenance? She’s probably somewhere between pre-contemplation [which some people consider to be denial] and contemplation. Maybe this publicity will help her move towards a healthier lifestyle, but maybe it won’t.

I’ve often wondered, though, if someone had found the right words, the right path to get through to me, would it have made a difference? Would I have found the courage, ability, the whatever, to control my weight before I hit 500 pounds? One thing’s for sure, simply telling me to lose the weight NEVER made a difference.

19 thoughts on “

  1. Greta says:

    I stopped seeing one doctor who told me that I was fat and ought to exercise. She did not ASK me what I was already doing which was walking an hour a day plus running several days a week. The pat phrase is always “JUST eat “less” and exercise “more”. It CAN be insulting to be called obese or fat. It can be frustrating and maddening to be told to do what you are already doing. An internet buddy of mine suggested doctors say something like “your BMI is so high that there are health risk factors”. That would be a better way as far as I am concerned. If a doctor does bring it up they ought to have a concrete plan, a recommended support group, instructional materials, SOMETHING to help get started. Just saying something DOES help though. The only 2 times my sister has made an effort to lose weight in her adult life were in response to a doctor telling her to lose for a specific reason. The first told her she needed to lose 100 pounds to have a fertility workup. She lost 50. Quit. And never went back to find out what she might do to have a child. She’s 57 and childless. Now she needs a knee replacement and the doctor told her she needs to lose 80 pounds to undergo knee replacement. So she lost 65 and quit at 15 pounds above goal because she’s afraid of surgery and somehow thinks if she gets to the weight goal she has no excuse to refuse the surgery. Well both those are just to illustrate that doctors DO have some power in effecting change but just saying “You are fat” isn’t good enough.

  2. Blader says:

    I think it’s a doctor’s job to say something. I’m sure smokers get tired of being told to quit, too, but the subject should come up during an exam. Beyond that I don’t know how they can compel anybody to do something before they’re ready. How can a doctor help get you to the ‘click’ moment?

    For sure they need to have information and a plan ready for that moment when a patient takes their advice and decides to do something.

  3. Jessica says:

    I was told countless times that I needed to lose weight – by my parents, my doctor, and the many boyfriends who never stuck around past the third date because despite a pretty face and a sparkling personality, they just couldn’t see themselves with a fat girl (or maybe they could, and that freaked them out more than anything else).

    For years I told myself that my weight didn’t matter, that i was successful both professionally and personally despite my size, yet at 250 lbs I was missing a few things: TRUE happiness and contentment, comfort in my own skin, and honesty with myself, my family, and my friends. Pretending to be happy all the time was getting really tiring!

    I was in the denail / pre-contemplative stage of “I’m thinking of going to Weight Watchers” for about 2 months before I finally bit the bullet and did it. At first I did it just to get my parents off my back, but it was WORKING so I kept at it. It has taken me a long time and in 2 years I’ve only lost 55 lbs… I’m a slow loser! But I’m much happier this way than I ever was before. All my bravado is gone. Now… I’m just me.

  4. jonquil says:

    It would help if doctors asked questions about your program and really listened to the answers. It would also help if they read the medical history chart we so carefully fill out– they often don’t. Sometimes they don’t even read the labels on the sample drugs they hand out like candy. And most doctors know less than they should about nutrition, exercise, and even sports injuries. I understand some medical schools don’t even require a nutrition course to graduate.

    In addition, doctors aren’t always shining with health themselves, to tell the truth. Mine is a wreck, and every person on her staff is seriously obese. Honestly, I get better everyday health advice from my trainer at the gym than I do from my doctor. My trainer also spends a lot more time with me, and doesn’t keep me waiting.

    So if doctors want patients to listen, they should start by listening to us, working with us, and leading by example. Dictating from on high doesn’t cut it.

  5. Liz says:

    I think that it is a doctor’s responsibility to tell patients when they are putting themselves at risk for diseases. However, I think that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach it. In this case the doctor told this woman that she would outlive her husband and would have a hard time finding someone else because of her weight. To quote the New Hampshire Union Leader “He said he tells obese women they most likely will outlive an obese spouse and will have a difficult time establishing a new relationship because studies show most males are completely negative to obese women.” (http://www.theunionleader.com/articles_showa.html?article=59407)

    I think that this is inappropriate, to say the least.

  6. Terri says:

    Not long ago my doctor asked for my permission to discuss my weight. He then proceeded to ask me what I had done, was doing, wanted to do about it and what if anything he could do to help. When I said, at one point I don’t know, what can you do to help, that’s when he laid out exactly what he could do and where he coule help. I think that was right during my contemplative phase and shorthly afterward I joined a support group, joined a gym, and hired a personal trainer. That has only been since March of this year, but I know having the doctor aproach me in this sensitive manner helped.

  7. Nancy says:

    Jane, I do NOT believe you deliberately set out to weigh 500 pounds. I know I did not set out to be morbidly obese, but here I am and every day I try to eat the correct foods in correct portions. Why do Doctors always seem to assume the idea never occurred to us to lose these excess pounds? If blame, scare tactics and just plain rudeness worked…there would be NO obesity problem. There is enough self hatred in the obese world, why add to it. Fat people are willing to mutilate themselves thru WLS because of desperation to lose this weight, yet guilt is still thrown at us. I feel like public enemy #1 because every day in the media there is some article or story about obesity.

  8. Kelly says:

    It’s my understanding that the problem wasn’t that the dr. told her to lose weight, but that he suggested that her obese husband would die before her and then she would be too fat to find another man. How offensive is that!

    My ex weighed 375 at one point and when he went to the dr. for a fever or something the dr. said “hell of a way to live, isn’t it?” This motivated my ex to join WW with me. I think someone has to want to do it for himself…the dr. can bring it up once but that’s enough. At no point is social commentary appropriate.

  9. Goddess Jessica says:

    I would find it more offensive if I went to my primary care physician for the first time and he didn’t address the obesity issue. I have the same problem with gynocologists who don’t address sexual behaviors and risk factors. When I run across this with physicians I think, “They are assuming I know the risks associated with this. What happens when something else comes up where I don’t know the risks?”

    I think this woman has every right to ditch her doctor if she found him offensive or too strong. However, filing a lawsuit? I would see a lawsuit of negligence if he didn’t address obesity with her – not because he did. I think it’s a doctor’s job to talk to you about things you don’t want to hear.

  10. Michelle says:

    I think that doctors have an obligation to discuss health issues with their patients, whether it’s smoking, excess drinking, or obesity. Even so, it has been over 2 years since my last GYN exam because I’m ashamed to hear my doc see that I weigh exactly the same as I did then and giving me the same old “you should really lose weight” speech. I know it’s not the responsible thing to do but there you have it.

  11. Allie says:

    Some of what the doctor said (love life comments, etc) was inappropriate, but telling the patient she’s fat? Thats sort of his job. I’d want my doctor to tell me if I had cancer, because cancer isn’t exactly good for you. Neither is being fat. It’s like going to your stylist with a really bad dye job and expecting her to ignore it. You’re going to these appointments to be improved, be it your health or your hair, and I would want the truth in either case. I know that I wasn’t ready to start to really lose weight until my doctor brought it up to me. Having a medical professional say the same things my mom had said to me for years made all the difference. I don’t want to live in a world thats so PC that my doctor can’t tell me about the issues affecting my health because I might sue or report him.

  12. hopefulloser says:

    Throughout my heavy years I’ve been offended by all different people, friends, family, co-workers, bosses, doctors. A lot of people just don’t know how to deal with heavy people.

    I think this situation is a combination of the doctor being a bit insensitive and the woman being over sensitive to the issue.

    No really harsh punishment should come to the doctor, but an education in dealing with the matter will be helpful for him.

    I would love it if our medical community could be more helpful and insurance covered more like a comprehensive plan that included stuff from therapy to gym memberships.

    I know that ultimately it was me who put the food in my mouth, but it’s more complicated than that. Insurance covers treatment for people with lung cancer from smoking. Over 90% of all lung cancer is from smoking.

    gosh, i could go on and on

  13. kathryn says:

    I can understand the woman if the doctor’s comments moved from medical advice to personal (and insulting) opinion, but what’s the risk of being sued for a doctor if they ignore a patient’s morbid obesity and the patient dies of a weight related condition?

  14. jonquil says:

    I just read the article from the Union Leader and I’m just shocked. This isn’t about obesity, it’s about sexism: because this doctor is specifically targeting women with his obnoxious “lecture on obesity:”

    “Dr. Terry Bennett, who practices in Rochester, said he has “an obesity lecture for women” that is a stark litany designed to get the attention of obese female patients.

    He said he tells obese women they most likely will outlive an obese spouse and will have a difficult time establishing a new relationship because studies show most males are completely negative to obese women. ”

    I think this calls for a civil rights court case, not just a board complaint. Not only is this guy singling out women for his nasty little lecture, he’s making a totally inappropriate commentary on their private lives, which is none of his business. The fact that he takes a creepy psychosexual interest in his female patients’ love lives is not just offensive, it’s alarming and totally unethical.

    What this guy needs is a letter writing campaign to the New Hampshire attorney general’s office, and a protest march in front of his own office. Maybe then he’ll get it through his thick head that practicing sexism can ruin your practice!

  15. stretchy says:

    My Doctor told me I needed to lose 15 pounds. He gave me a list of diet book titles available at the library. I was miffed, but knew he was being kind. (i actually needed to lose a LOT more.)

    No matter how “nice” they try to be, it still SOUNDS way harsh to hear someone tell you to lose weight.

    I read some of the books and exercised and ate right and 6 mos later I was at a trim healthy weight. Then I toned up so there was no drooping, and a few months later, all my “skinny” jeans were too big.
    I have to maintain, but I am never going back. I like the way I am now and rediscovered spirituality once i truly began to

    r-e-s-p-e-c-t my body.

    When I saw my doctor again, he kept using the phrases ” really really fit” and “glowing skin” to describe me– well all that water helped my skin a lot, along with the “superfoods” there are so many benefits, it is worth it. I make myself work out daily so I will age in a healthier way.

  16. Sue says:

    Growing up, all I heard from my mom was “lose weight”, while she made french toast for dinner or left Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese in the freezer for me to make myself. At one point, she had my doctor have a “talk” with me about it, and I remember him telling me to “eat salads”. So very un-helpful!

    As a (young) adult, I gained 17 pounds in one year, between GYN appointments. My doctor said NOTHING; he continued to say nothing, even when I was 80#’s overweight. All this time, I was on the pill and it is probably not a good idea to be on the pill and be so overwieght. Eventually, I’d healed my emotional pain enough to lose all the weight, and he STILL said nothing, so I dumped him. I felt as if he was not concerned with my health at all. He really didn’t even notice the gains or losses.

    It is a doctor’s job to help us be healthier, and I agree they need to do it tactfully. The subject should at least be approached, if only to open it up for discussion should the patient want to ask for help but is embarrassed. If the patient is resistant, fine, drop it. No degradation or belittlement; we are experts at that ourselves, and our wieght is a byproduct and producer of such, from ourselves and society at large.

  17. Laura says:

    Boy did this touch a nerve! I tend to agree that a doctor should be able to tell a patient their health is endangered no matter what the situation (leaving his personal thoughts on their love lives alone). And most likely I am over sensitive, however some sensitivity on the doctors part would be welcome. Most have an impatient “just do it” attitude and it if was that easy we would all have done it. It only increases the shame.

  18. Mercury says:

    I think the general issue is a tough one. I’m currently avoiding going to the doctor because I’ve gained a lot of weight recently and I don’t want to get a lecture (I’m also in a new city, so I’m uncomfortable seeing a new doctor who I can’t count on to be sensitive). However, I do think it’s the doctor’s job to point out risk factors. I agree with someone above who said that maybe just addressing the “BMI” would be better.

    As to the particular case, I think both parties sound silly. It’s totally inappropriate for doctor to tell you that “you’ll never get a man like that.” That’s not a health-related issue. On the other hand, he did apologize to her formally. Personally, I probably would have gone home, cried, and never seen that creepy quack again.

    On the other OTHER hand, for whatever reason, the Board asked him to attend some training and admit he made a mistake, which would have been the end of it. I think he’s being just as prickly and overly sensitive as the woman who made the complaint. Sometimes you just have to suck on one of life’s lemons and get on with it.

  19. Dana says:

    Three years ago, my doctor said to me, “Your body doesn’t like being 238 lbs.” After listening to my cracking knees and quick breaths walking up the stairs to my doctor’s office, I couldn’t disagree. It didn’t even seem offensive. What was missing from his seemingly benign comment was a genuine concern and an action plan for the future. I wish he would have also said, “…and how can I help you be more kind to your body?” Who knows…maybe the next three years of roller coaster-ing weight would have been a more steady decline.

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