In a study published in the 2005 issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law,Abigail Saguy and Brian Riley found that many overweight people decide not to get help for medical conditions that are more treatable and more risky than obesity because they don’t want to deal with their doctor’s harassment about their weight. (For instance, a study from the University of North Carolina found that obese women are less likely to receive cervical exams than their thinner counterparts, in part because they worry about being embarrassed or belittled by the doctor because of their weight.)
And of course, when those women drop dead of preventable cancer, it all gets ascribed to “ZOMG obesity epidemic fatties are UNHEALTHY why didn’t they put down the baby-flavoured donuts” and the cycle keeps going, dumbasses.
The reason this jumped out at me is that it’s only been in the last year (i.e. two six-monthly appointments) that I’ve started to just not like going to the doctor.
It was great when I was at uni. The doctors were generally so head-over-heels with getting to deal with a patient who didn’t smoke, used two forms of contraception and knew exactly when her last smear had been that the dreaded BMI calculation often didn’t even make an appearance.
These last two? Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, different story.
First there was the doctor who decided to ask about any family history of diabetes after looking at my BMI and delivering the Once Your Pancreas Gives Up You Are Fucked And Will Lose Limbs, Probably Sight, speech. This was happily tempered with actually listening to my explanation of my diet and general activity level (protip to Wellingtonians: generally the phrase “walk up the hill to uni every day” quells concerns from physicians and insurers alike).
Then there was the latest doctor. The one who looked at my BMI, you know, that random, unscientific, meaningless number, and decided to make all her assumptions based on that – to the point of having the gall to look seriously shocked when my blood pressure – you know, that measurable, somewhat-meaningful* number – comes back just fine … and then proceeds to ignore my description of my diet and activity levels and negative family history of blood clots and basically threatens me with removal of my Pill-privileges if I don’t slim down sharpish.
Still, I had it lucky. At least she didn’t take my blood pressure three more times and refuse to accept the results, and at least I (so far) haven’t been put on blood pressure or cholesterol medication I don’t need – and which then get added to the next headline-grabbing COST OF OBESITY pathetic-excuses-for-articles.
And even if you’re sitting there thinking “But COME ON, QoT, we all knooooooooooooow that fat is unheeeeeeeeeeeeealthy, and why should Hardworking Taxpayers** Foot The Bill For Their*** Laziness”, I would like you to at least consider this idea – it doesn’t even require critically analysing your ingrained, media-driven-hysterical prejudices, I promise:
If fat people are nervous about going to see doctors, if fat people are avoiding preventive primary healthcare, if fat people are ignoring actual symptoms of illness because we can’t be fucked dealing with the bullshit or being actively disbelieved about our own bodies … well, The Taxpayer**** is going to end up paying anyway – and not even for Fattie Diseases! For “normal” diseases! Which would cost a shit-tonne less if treated up front or even averted through basic primary care!
What I’m saying, Virtuous Thin People Who Clearly Make All The Right Decisions,***** is that it’s in your own interests for me to not be belittled and treated like crap by an alleged medical “professional” relying on 19th-century woo and blind prejudice over actual facts, among all the other bullshit we fatties deal with.
(And lefties, just another point: DPF is a dogwhistling douchebag whose blog is a sewer. WhaleOil is scum with delusions of political influence. Mike Hutcheson, like the rest of Sunrise’s “commentators”, is frequently full of shit. We really don’t need the apparently-obligatory “LOL UR FAT” comments every time they do something idiotic, they give us plenty of material to work with regardless.)