S1E4: The Effect of Weight Bias on Care

*Content Warning:  If you live in a larger body (whether you are a medical professional or not), please listen with caution. If it gets too hard to hear about the depth of weight bias, please pause and come back later. Or set up to have a friend listen to the episode as well, so that you have someone to speak to about it after you listen. We believe connection and community are crucial when living with weight bias. 


Because weight stigma is expressed through weight bias, it is necessary to discuss and examine our own weight bias as medical professionals and medical professionals in training. There is a growing body of research showing that weight stigma has a *significant* effect on long term health, making it an important subject for medical professionals to address personally and collectively. So we will spend today’s episode diving into what weight bias is, the research, and what we can do about it.

In This Week's Episode:

  • The difference between implicit and explicit bias
  • A thought experiment considering what words come to mind to describe thin and fat people
  • How categorizing information is human nature
  • Discussion of research showing larger patients get poorer health care than thinner patients
  • Discussion of research showing medical professionals' attitudes towards fat patients
  • Overview of research about eating disorder professionals' attitudes towards larger patients
  • How the nocebo effect influences outcomes of higher weight patients


Race is not a risk factor.
Exposure to racism is the risk factor.
The problem is not located in people’s bodies.
— Deb Burgard, PhD

Questions to Consider:

  • Can you adequately treat larger patients when you have negative attitudes towards them?
  • Can you provide weight-inclusive or even weight-neutral care when you have an explicit bias against patients at the higher end of the weight spectrum?
  • How would you treat someone if you assumed that their size was not the cause of their condition?
  • Can you start paying attention to how your internal reactions to your larger patients may differ from those of your smaller ones?
  • Consider how do you help your patients or clients when you weigh yourself regularly, are on a diet, or dislike your own body?
  • What if how we think and talk of fatness causes more harm than the fat itself?

Resources (mentioned in this episode): 

Extra resources:


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