Doctor Apologizes for Fat Jokes

An orthopedic surgeon who joked about fat patients has apologized for his remarks, which were made in an August issue of a medical trade magazine.

Dr. John D. Kelly, who works at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, recently started writing a humor column called “Cutting Remarks” for Outpatient Surgery magazine. But many people didn’t see the humor in his August column focused on how to deal with large patients in the operating room.

Doctors should worry about operating on patients “w ho have more chins than a Chinese phone book,” Kelly wrote.

In another one-liner, he said: “You should worry about performing surgery on the super-sized if there is a comma in your patient’s body weight.”

The remarks became a weighty issue after they were brought to the attention of the Obesity Action Coalition, an advocacy group that fights weight biases.

“The last place anyone wants to feel stigmatized is in their health care provider’s office,” James Zervios, a coalition spokesman, told

Zervios said Kelly issued a wholehearted apology to the group.

Although Kelly did not respond to’s request for comment, he did respond openly to questions on the blog Former Fat Dudes.

“I used very bad judgment and never intended to offend,” Kelly wrote. “I think I was running up against a deadline and threw some jokes together in order to get a few laughs.”

Kelly has responded to every complaint email he has received by showing remorse, according to the blog.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System has not reprimanded Kelly, but said it did not support the doctor’s jokes, calling them “misguided.”

“I don’t know what possessed him,” Susan Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Health System, told “However, he has apologized, and continues to, for a serious lapse in judgment.”