'Fat shaming' at the doctor's office can harm patients, study finds

New research claims that the way doctors perceive overweight and obese patients may be putting them at risk.
3:06 | 08/04/17

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Transcript for 'Fat shaming' at the doctor's office can harm patients, study finds
We are turning now to that research about fat shaming at the doctor's office revealing that the way physicians address overweight patients may be doing more harm than good and our senior medical contributor Dr. Jen Ashton just walked onto the set. Good morning. So, good morning. Tell us what the headline is here. So this was a study done at the university of Connecticut department of psychology and were looking at this issue ca called sizism which is the practice of thinking that you can assess someone's health purely by their body size, whether they're too thin appearing or too overweight and what they found unfortunately is that many, not all thankfully doctors actually echoed a lot of the same beliefs that we hold in western society and I'm going to quote from the study now. They found that a lot of these doctors considered people who were overweight or obese to be bad, lazy, stupid, worthless, these are obviously incredibly hurtful. Very hard to hear and they're medically very wrong. Yeah. We actually have some tweets. Some of our viewers tweeted experiences. Claudia said I weighed 168 pounds and I'm 5'8" and the doctor wrote I was an obese native female. That was ten years ago and I have never forgotten. And then someone tweeted that their doctor told them they could, quote, stand to lose a little more weight. They left and took the walk of shame. The importance of the patient/doctor relationship. How it impacts people emotionally can impact them physically. The bottom line is that not all health care providers are good communicators. They're not all considerate. Not all sensitive and, yeah, you run the risk of obscuring any positive clinical or medical or therapeutic interaction there by the negative. That's all someone is going to hear and they might not come back for screening tests or follow-up but I think it's also important to realize that ideally there should be a two-way street. Doctors need to be better communicators in every way. But patients also need to try to be receptive and when someone says, especially a health care provider, I'm concerned about your weight, hopefully they hear that as a medical observation, not a social judgment. So we need to do a lot of work on this. Certainly there is a way to say the same thing to have the message but have it be heard -- Constructively or in a kind way. What's your advice. When I got board certified in obesity medicine we learned the facts. We don't understand completely what causes it. It's not caused by laziness or by a lack of commitment so I think the tips here for doctors, you should ask the patient permission to discuss their weight. Ask them first. You should explain the health concerns that exist that we know from medical data and literature and set realistic goals not I'd like you to lose 100 pounds because I'm pulling that number out but this is what we need to get you to to be healthier and help that patient make a plan. Not just about stating I want you to change and then leaving them to, you know, flap in the breeze. You need to actually make constructive plans. We've reported people are healthy at all different shapes and sizes. A lot healthier than you think. By the way you can be quite unhealthy and very underweight so goes both ways. Thank you so much. We'll take a closer look at

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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