Moment of Truth

For those who’ve never seen Fox’s execrable game show, Moment of Truth, it goes like this: the contestant, who’s hooked up to a polygraph machine, is asked a series of embarrassing questions. The more honest the answers, the more money the contestant wins.

Check out this abridged version of an episode featuring Aaron Dunbar, an Emergency Medical Technician. Two of the questions — asked by an actual fat person, presumably to increase Aaron’s discomfort in answering — are “Do you think fat people are simply weak?” and “Are you repulsed by fat people?” Aaron’s answer to both is “Yes,” followed by the robotic female voice representing the polygraph: “True.”

This might be the man who shows up to save your life in an emergency — a man who is repulsed by fat people and believes they are weak. And he’s not alone. I’ve personally had a conversation with an EMT who expressed similar sentiments — having to help very fat people was disgusting to him, and he found himself feeling anger toward them for “letting themselves get that way.” A 2001 study by Kelly Brownell and Rebecca Puhl found that 24% of nurses admit to being “repulsed” by fat patients. Last summer, paramedics in Gloucester, England, joked as a 245-pound woman died in her home, because they couldn’t figure out how to move her to the hospital.

For all the empty talk about being concerned for our health, there sure are a lot of medical professionals out there who simply don’t want to do their jobs when it comes to fat patients.

(Via Shakesville.)

Leave a comment


  1. Cindy

     /  June 25, 2008

    Every time I read these reports, I’m less inclined to seek medical care.

  2. Janell

     /  June 25, 2008

    Is this really the right video clip?

  3. Lisa

     /  June 25, 2008

    What we in the fat community face here, is a job to do! We have to work hard to educate people- that we are human and deserving of consideration. I know it sucks that some people don’t already realize this, but that’s the reality and it must be altered to a better one. I also believe people who don’t share this attitude in their work should be acknowledged, praised, shown as an example of real humanity. We need to praise the good attitudes that people have too.

  4. AnnieMcPhee

     /  June 25, 2008

    That link to the 245 lb woman and the paramedics is *insane.* I was apparently pretty full of fluid when I had to be brought to the hospital, weighed a good 280, and it took about 5 minutes to get me onto the stretcher and into the ambulance. AND it was a hella cramped and awkward space they had to get me out of. That really really pisses me off.

    As to the show – ugh. I saw the ads and said “Now that looks horrible.” Anyway, an instant polygraph? What is this, Star Trek? Not that polygraph is reliable anyway, but an instant reading? It doesn’t work like that, at least not to my knowledge.

  5. AnnieMcPhee

     /  June 25, 2008

    Fwiw, that video is of “So You Think You Can Dance” and not “Moment of Truth.” I’d like to see the MOT clip 🙂

  6. Sarah

     /  June 26, 2008

    I don’t understand WHY these individuals get into health care if they are not willing to serve the public.

  7. LeslieR

     /  June 26, 2008

    Yeah, I also saw a clip for “So You Think You Can Dance”, not sure why. Also to Annie, I watched the one of the first episodes of the show and I’m pretty sure they’re not claiming it as an instant polygraph. I think they ask the contestant a whole lot of questions before the show while hooked up to a polygraph and determine whether or not they were telling the truth (as much as a polygraph can, I guess). Then they ask select questions during the show (probably the ones with the most titillating results) and when he answers, they just say whether or not his answer agreed with their earlier assessment of the truth. So they’re not claiming an instant polygraph. Either way, I don’t find it a very interesting show.

    About the topic in general, I find it very sad. In the last year I’ve weighed anywhere between 215-300 pounds and when I interact with people, particularly medical staff, I attempt not to feel badly in large part by reassuring myself of their professionalism. I know despite the fact that these people are in health care, they are human, are not perfect and will therefore make mistakes. But it’s still very sad to me to realize that you can’t always rely on someone’s professionalism, discretion, or common decency.

  8. O.C.

     /  June 26, 2008

    How long will it take for people to realize that a significant portion of the health risks supposedly attributable to size are actually coming from the significantly, measurably poorer health care large people receive? Every story like this just angers me more.

  9. Sarah:

    Two things. First, many aspiring health care professionals see fat as the problem that needs to be fixed, and who better to come save the day than Teh Haters? Second, the system pretty much forces non-fat-haters to engage in fat-hating behaviors—pushing whatever weight-loss products are available—or else they’re accused of “not practicing evidence-based medicine.”

    And, word, OC.

  10. Zen

     /  June 27, 2008

    Wow. That guy is um. A piece of work.

    I refuse to watch that show, simply because of the commercials I’ve seen for it. It’s horrible.

  11. justme

     /  June 28, 2008

    Unfortunately no surprise here.
    Not with the big revelation or the fact that network television feels this qualifies as entertainment.

  12. Laura

     /  June 28, 2008

    It also does not help when former fat women get on CNN and tell the world that the humiliation of a child asking why she is so fat led to her losing weight. This gives permission to everyone, including medical professionals, to humiliate fat people in hopes that it will cause them to lose weight.

  13. Christina

     /  August 1, 2008

    This paramedic needs to give up his license. He should not be practicing if he cannot devote the same level of care to all his patients. I would not hire him. If he is repulsed by a fat person, I believe he will not do what is necessary to help that patient.


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