Medical Discrimination: If you’re fat, doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you could always do more/better (or have WLS).

Christine writes:

It was interesting–and somewhat sad–to find your site. I also have a medical discrimination story. I am currently 33 years old, 255 lbs, and 5’9″. I exercise, eat fairly well, and have good blood pressure/cholesterol/blood sugar. Anyway, now that my vitals are out of the way, my ob/gyn diagnosed me as having PCOS after my TRAINER at my gym suggested I may have it. The gyn said that I really need to eat a low glycemic diet. (Of course, as is often the case, when this kind of advice is given out, that’s about the extent of the information). The doctor prescribed me Metformin. Fast forward to a few months later. I wanted to get more detailed information and also look for other possible hormonal problems because of family history and made an appointment with an endocrinologist. This was at a teaching hospital, so I was first seen by a very nice intern, and then by the well-regarded endocrinologist.

Literally within the first few minutes of seeing me, he suggested I might consider weight loss surgery. I was taken aback. Not only had I never had anyone suggest this to me, he did little to nothing to address my real issues, the reason I had come to see him. I spoke up, and said “I see no reason to take someone who is for the most part completely healthy and could remain healthy for a long time with weight only *possibly* causing problems and perform a surgery which could kill me and at the very least cause complications to my life.” He said “Well, people like you often can’t lose weight just by diet and exercise.” I responded that I would never ever consider it. The thing is, I work out, I eat well. I have no problem walking several miles or climbing stairs or hiking. Could I do better? Sure, couldn’t anyone? I am trying to lose weight, for myself, but to have someone so flippantly suggest surgery really angered me. I left the office and cried. Not because I was hurt, but because it upset me to have discrimination so blatant.

Other experiences I have had were more subtle. My physician mentioned the possibility of weight loss surgery as well. He tends to obsess a bit on diet and exercise with me, which has always bothered me, to the point that I have thought about changing doctors. What irritates me is that he doesn’t ask my friend, who is also a patient but a “normal” weight at ALL about what she eats or does for exercise (answer until just recently–eats candy, doesn’t exercise). When he asked me if I exercised, and I said yes, he asked “doing what and how often?” When I told him I worked out 3 times a week for about an hour doing cardio and/or weight lifting and walked a mile to the train station each day, he said “You really should work out every day, at at least 4 miles per hour.” What? I mean, doesn’t someone deserve some credit for trying? I’m sure running 10 miles a day would be great, but it’s simply not realistic for me. It’s more discouraging than anything.

Thanks for the site!

Leave a comment


  1. bloomingpsycho

     /  October 16, 2009

    Weight loss surgery is the “in” thing these days. In ten years, maybe less, it will be reviled just like the Atkins diet, which was once the “in” thing as more and more problems are revealed. The problem with doctors is they take a method that is to be used in extreme cases and try to apply it to the lives of people who do not have such extreme problems, often messing up their lives completely.

  2. Weight loss surgery has become so commonplace that gastric banding is now considered to be cosmetic surgery. I hope when you go back for your next checkup it will be with another endo who better respects you and your health.

  3. “You really should work out every day, at at least 4 miles per hour.”

    What? Doesn’t exercising for 7 days a week increase your risk of injury, because you’re not giving your muscles time off to rebuild themselves?

  4. My sister was considering lap band, until I did some research, and pointed out that you have essentially a permanent open wound right into your abdominal cavity. How exactly this is supposed to be good, I really don’t know.

  5. From what I’ve seen from people who are very serious about exercise, they recommend taking days off.

  6. boots

     /  October 16, 2009

    “He said ‘Well, people like you often can’t lose weight just by diet and exercise.'”

    LOL, so the good news is that occasionally doctors will admit this. The bad news: it’s only when they’re trying to talk you into WLS.

  7. Stacia

     /  October 17, 2009

    I just want to chime in about the insanity.
    I went to a new doctor today to get help for for an extremely painful pinched nerve in my neck. She said, “Well, have you gained a lot of weight recently?”
    I have a BMI around 27. WTF? My weight contributing to the pinched nerve in my neck?
    I noticed her clipboard had a Phentermine decal on it…I think I’m heading for the hills.

  8. wriggles

     /  October 17, 2009

    “Well, people like you often can’t lose weight just by diet and exercise.”

    What is he pretending that all those slim people who’ve lost the same ten pounds over and over again don’t count?

    How stupid do you have to be, for it to count as stupid if you are defined as intelligent?

  9. MargB

     /  October 18, 2009

    A very nice and sensible nurse at a public hospital once told me what I had long suspected was true: “A lot of people are making a lot of money off lapband surgery”.

    She was absolutely furious that the risks associated with the surgery were being glossed over and believed it should only be recommended when there were 2 or more chronic conditions that could not be controlled with medication/lifestyle changes. And merely having a high BMI or wearing plus-sized clothing was not one of them.

    The following study that followed 50 patients for 4 years after gastric bypass surgery found that over half suffered from complications. and one in five needed follow-up surgery. While there were positive health results for most of those with chronic conditions, it became very clear that the risks had to be thoroughly understood and considered before surgery.

    No reputable doctor should recommend it for a patient with good blood pressure/cholesterol/blood sugar.

    Wiley – Blackwell (2008, December 2). Pros And Cons Of Gastric Bypass Surgery For Severe Obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 19, 2009, from­ /releases/2008/11/081118071426.htm

  10. inge

     /  October 20, 2009

    #3: What? Doesn’t exercising for 7 days a week increase your risk of injury, because you’re not giving your muscles time off to rebuild themselves?

    Yeah, but it’s different when you’re fat — then you don’t want those muscles to re-build themselves, because your muscles might gain weight. [/snark]


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