Request for ideas: constructing an FAQ brochure to give to doctors

Jennifer writes:

After an experience yesterday at a gynecologist where the first thing out of his mouth after “Hello” was “Have you considered LAP band surgery?”, it got me to thinking. Although he didn’t press the issue and tried to explain why (my first question whenever any doctor recommends treatment of any kind to anyone should always be “How will this help?”), I still got a little irritated.

While I made it out of the office without being heaped upon with brochures about BMIs, weight loss drugs, the dangers of being a certain height and weight, I do know lots of people who have been subjected to that kind of treatment. And it got me thinking further:
Why not heap the brochures on the doctors?

So I’m going to create a full-color brochure full of Frequently Asked Questions doctors hurl at patients about their weight, and answers that would be appropriate, in the same graphical and writing styles of those other brochures describing the dangers of genital warts and smoking. It will not just make anecdotal claims but will reference published, peer-reviewed studies and CDC stats.

I’ve a list of questions compiled right now, but would you mind posting to the site a request for other suggestions for questions please? The brochure will be released under a Creative Commons license and will be freely downloadable.

Thank you!

Leave a comment


  1. jojo.k

     /  September 30, 2009

    Great idea!

    I would be interested in the answers to these questions from my health professionals.

    Is fat a symptom, cause or characteristic? And when do you make that call, with regards to my health?

    If you couldn’t see my appearance or weight on the chart, given all other information, am I healthy?

    Would you advise a normal weight person with the same symptoms this way?

    If you use or record BMI, why, as it has no medical or health basis?

  2. Jodie

     /  September 30, 2009

    Just a suggestion- you might want to enlist people that are experienced in reading and understanding studies who can look at them critically. Taking sound bytes from articles (such as the infamous “being overweight has better outcomes after heart surgery”) doesn’t always bring across the whole point and conclusions of studies, and you may further alienate those you’re trying to educate. That is, if your point is to use this as a learning tool that can actually help promote awareness.

    You might want to consider actually enlisting the help of some of the “fat-friendly” health professionals list linked on the sidebar.

  3. Femme

     /  September 30, 2009

    Yes–I work at a clinic with Drs who would really like such a resource, big caveat here: but only if written by Drs. It (unfortunately) matters to many of them that the people writing such guides have a medical background and no other.

    Good luck! I hope to see this resource one day!

  4. QuiltLuvr

     /  September 30, 2009

    Big Fat Blog did a very good job putting together a compilation of claims and facts about fat. It can be found at www dot bigfatfacts dot com. There is a pdf version there that you are encouraged to print and take with you.

    They have excellent footnotes to back any assertions made.

  5. jennhi

     /  September 30, 2009

    Thanks, guys! It looks like several brochures touching different aspects would be appropriate, depending on the target audience. My original audience simply consisted of the health professionals as described in many of the patients’ stories on the blog. But now I think there should be separate ones for the patients as well. The patient-centric certainly would have to be written by an MD if it’s to have any, um, weight.

    Others can just be carried around by the patients themselves. I was thinking of titles like “So you want to prescribe weight loss surgery,” and “Your fat patient and you”, still in a very respectful tone of writing.

    The questions you’re providing so far are very useful! Keep them coming!

  6. Ah – for patients I’d also suggest this Prepared Patient article.

  7. I know that not everyone in the FA movement is a fan of the Rudd Center, but they did come out with a video series not too long ago that’s geared towards health care providers and focuses on how to reduce size discrimination.

  8. Came here from Shapely Prose. Maybe some of the info and references in this sociological fact sheet would be helpful:

  9. MargB

     /  October 1, 2009

    I would love to see a brochure along the lines of:
    “Are you helping or hindering your patient today?”, focussing in a polite – but clear and direct way – about how what they say and how they say it can put patients off seeking medical care when they need it.

  10. jaed

     /  October 1, 2009

    “Have you ever considered losing the weight?” That seems to be the most frequently asked question by doctors of fat patients. (Or even not-fat patients, by some accounts.)

    “Have you tried just eating a little less?”

    “You don’t think the weight just put itself there, do you?”

    “Do you realize you are considered obese?”

    “Be honest – you eat a lot of sweets, don’t you?”

    “What are you going to do to start controlling your weight?”

    “Have you considered gastric bypass surgery?”

  11. jennhi

     /  October 1, 2009

    You guys rock! Thanks so much for the ideas!

  12. What a FANTABULOUS idea! I don’t have much to add beyond what others have already said, but I strongly encourage you to pursue this, and I commend your wish to make them freely available. Yay you!

    Having a “name” on these brochures, esp one with letters after it (MD, RD, etc.) might be useful; perhaps Linda Bacon or Joanne Ikeda might be willing to review it for you and sign on.

    I’d also suggest a brochure on What Is Health At Every Size and/or Why I’m Not Trying To Lose Weight Anymore. Maybe even one on Why I’m Not Interested In Weight Loss Surgery.

    I can totally see how those might be useful in talking to doctors new to you. Good luck on this project; email me if you want help or an extra set of brain cells. Also let me know when you are ready to create one on pregnancy. I wrote one years ago for NAAFA but they never published it. Maybe I can still find it kicking around somewhere and we can adapt and update it.

  13. Steph B

     /  October 3, 2009

    AMAZING! I have never had a bad experience with my doctor because of my weight before, but this would be a great tool.

  14. This is so awesome. Go for it.

  15. Love it! I especially like the name “Why I’m Not Interested In Weight Loss Surgery, or alternatively, Why Do I Have To Mutilate My Body Because You Say So?

  16. bloomingpsycho

     /  October 7, 2009

    Can’t think of a way to phrase it in a question, but I work with the elderly and have noticed that there is no difference in the number of large people who have diseases such as hypertension, type II diabetes, or heart disease. The difference I have noticed is that very thin people tend to have more osteoporosis whereas large people tend to have worse osteoarthritis in the lower extremities from carrying around the extra weight. There’s one for the statistic lovers.


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