Stories wanted for article about health care bias against fat people in Health magazine

Hi –

My name is Ginny Graves, and I’m writing an article about weight bias in health care for HEALTH magazine. I’m looking for anecdotes from women ages 25 to 55 who have had serious health problems misdiagnosed as “obesity-related” when in fact they had nothing to do with being overweight. For instance, someone who’s aching knees were attributed to weight when the underlying cause was actually lymphoma. Similarly, I’m looking for overweight and obese women whose serious illnesses were undiagnosed because docs didn’t do the proper imaging tests or the imaging tests didn’t work properly. Do you know of any women who fit into either of those categories and would be willing to share their stories with our readers? Ideally, I’d like them to be willing to use their real names, since an underlying theme of the story is overcoming the stigma of being overweight. I’d like to chat with people over the phone in the next couple of weeks.

I’d be grateful for your time and help.

Many thanks,
Ginny Graves

email fathealth for the phone number to contact Ms Graves

Leave a comment


  1. Meems

     /  September 25, 2009

    Fortunately (for me – unfortunately for your story), I haven’t had any major health problems – no less any that were misdiagnosed. There were a few minor things, like the nutritionist who diagnosed me as insulin resistant because I was having trouble losing weight (in reality I was at a healthy weight and my body didn’t need to lose anything), but nothing major.

    I just wanted to say that I’m thrilled you’re doing this story.

  2. I don’t know if this meets your criteria for serious, but here goes: 12 years ago I discovered karate and really got into it. For the first time I was consistently exercising both at the dojo and at the gym. After a few months I developed plantar fasciitis and sought the advice of a podiatrist who told me that I should give up karate. A few months after that I sat in the waiting room of my optometrist’s office while he lectured me about the dangers of karate as a sport; he advised me to take up tai chi instead. It seemed that all my healthcare professionals wanted to blame my problems on being an overweight woman participating in a sport and they wanted me to give up karate without any consideration of the benefit I was getting from being more active. Only my sport medicine specialist never questioned my decision to train; he helped me with my knee pain so I could compete at the AAU nationals. I won a gold medal, BTW. Now, after all these years, my sensei has informed me that I’m too fat to promote to black belt. I’m heartbroken. If you’re interested in hearing more, contact me through my blog:

  3. I would be willing to discuss an issue I had with my gallbladder about 8 years ago (when I was just 22)–my doctor insisted my stomach pains were from irritable bowel syndrome and suggested I diet to lose weight and to eat more fiber. When I finally landed in the ER for the third time in a year, the doctors were appalled that my GP never sent me for further tests.

  4. I was 300 pounds when I got pregnant with my son, and the OB insisted I had gestational diabetes. So I had to use a glucose monitor for most of the prenancy, and every appointment she claimed that I was lying, not doing the test/writing down a made-up number, etc. After 6 solid months of testing 4 times a day, guess what? No diabetes. No high blood sugar. None, nada, zip. She tried to force me to go to “councilling” for my “issues”. My only issue was with her. My son was born perfectly healthy, and I have had docs test me repeatedly for diabetes, claiming that because I am fat, I MUST be diabetic. I’m 46, and NO signs of any diabetes. And NONE in the family on either side, ever.
    If you want to hear what an INTELLEGENT doc said about Weight Watchers and my weight, check out my blog. Too bad she’s no longer here, I would have continued seeing her for life. She was one of the first docs who realized HAES was a reality.

  5. Rmaley

     /  October 5, 2009

    I have been fortunate in that I myself have not been hurt by a doctor and fat prejudice (although I’m sure it’s just a matter of time), but my best friend was.

    I finally nagged her into going to see a doctor because she had been having abnormal menstrual bleeding and bleeding between periods. She goes to the clinic, and a nurse practitioner sees her (although she did see an actual doctor a couple of times). What diagnosis did she walk out of the clinic with? Pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (WITHOUT glucose tolerance testing or a lipid panel) – because she was fat, fifty, and female. Regarding the abnormal bleeding – “Oh, it’s just menopause. Let’s wait 3 months and see.”

    AAAGGGGHHHH!!! Of course, I couldn’t convince my friend to do something about that because her father was dying and she had to deal with that before herself. This started in June. In OCTOBER, the practitioner said, “Oh, you’re still bleeding? Let’s do a endometrial biopsy.” Which they promptly did badly, so they didn’t really see any “abnormalities.” Their response: “Let’s wait another 3 months.”

    By this time, my friend’s father had passed away, so she demanded a second opinion, and had the biopsy results sent to the oncologic gynecologist surgeon (a gynecologic surgeon specializing in female cancers), who was so disgusted with those results he asked my friend to undergo a D&C. And THAT’s when he found the ENDOMETRIAL CANCER.

    So in December, my friend had a total hysterectomy, with a final diagnosis of Stage I, Phase II endometrial cancer (which means it was completely localized and had just started penetrating the uterine wall). Fortunately, all the abdominal washes and lymph node biopsies were clear, so surgery was all she needed. But she came SO CLOSE to having that metasize, all because a medical practitioner was more obsessed with her weight than with the blood coming out of her coochie!!!

    Yeah, I’m still pissed off as hell about it, although my friend has moved on and made a full recovery. Would that nurse practitioner have made different choices if my friend had been fifty, female, and THIN? I think so.

    Here’s the kicker: a mutual friend of ours went to the same clinic. She is also fat, fifty, and female. She got the SAME DIAGNOSES (pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol). Only she waited the additional 3 months. Now she’s undergoing chemo and radiation for the SAME DIAGNOSIS (endometrial cancer) because it had metasized to the lymph nodes.

    Needless to say, I tell every woman I know to NEVER go to this clinic for female care. It will get you killed.


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