Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Only A Healthcare System Rooted in Fatphobia…

Bad DoctorIn the US we have a healthcare system that is rooted in fatphobia.  This is demonstrated to fat people in numerous, sometimes dangerous and even life-threatening, ways:

Only a healthcare system rooted in fatphobia

  • would create hospitals and clinics without rooms, furniture, or medical devices that accommodate fat people – despite the fact that these items exist, and these centers knew that they will be called upon to treat fat patients when they built the buildings and bought the supplies.

Only a healthcare system rooted in fatphobia

  • could create a world where thin people are encouraged to eat whole foods, slow foods, and locally grown foods, but fat people are encouraged to join weight loss schemes that deliver frozen food in a baggies to us to be microwaved and consumed, or include 5 reconstituted soy protein shakes a day that are even less successful than they are rational.

Only a healthcare system rooted in fatphobia

  • would create a situation where fat people’s actual health concerns are shrugged off by doctors who are desperate to focus on their body size instead, such that thin people get evidence-based health interventions and fat people get diets that have basically no chance of making us thin or healthy (which are two separate things.)

Only a healthcare system rooted in fatphobia:

  • would consider it ethical for a doctor to recommend amputating someone’s perfectly healthy stomach  – leading to possible death, horrific lifelong complications, and malnutrition – so that they the patient can shop in “regular” clothing stores, or walk in high heels

Only a healthcare system rooted in fatphobia:

  • would prescribe fat people dangerous drugs that can kill us, have almost no chance of of making us thinner in the long term, or healthier (again – two separate things)

Only a healthcare system rooted in fatphobia

  • would create a world where thin people with type 2 diabetes are given insulin and other evidence-based treatments, but fat people are given a surgery that amputates a perfectly healthy, functioning organ and often results in dying, or a lifetime of horrific side effects far worse than type 2 diabetes.

Only a healthcare system rooted in fatphobia:

  • would create a situation where fat people consistently have a completely rational fear that our doctors will kill us, either through a lack of competent care, or an excess of negligent care

We need a healthcare system that acknowledges the natural diversity of body sizes and the fact that even if doctors believe (sans evidence) that making fat people look like thin people would make us healthier, there isn’t a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people succeed at significant long term weight loss, so they have literally no idea how to get it done.

We need a healthcare system that actively wants to support the health of people of all sizes, rather than trying to make everyone the same size and only caring about people’s actual health if/when they are not fat. We need a healthcare system that is not rooted in fatphobia and the good news is, it’s entirely possible to have one.  If you want to read more, this piece by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor is a great place to start.

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