Most studies that look into body weight and its effect on healthcare visits don't consider the experiences of weight stigma or patients' feelings about their own bodies. But the lead author of this study, Janell Mensinger, PhD, wanted to look into these factors because she believes that the way the United States health system currently views body size could be actively hurting patients.
"What is important here is that women with higher body mass index tend to avoid healthcare and the reasons for that are often due to their experiences of weight discrimination," said Mensinger, an associate research professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health. "We need to help healthcare professionals understand that seeing a provider is highly charged with stress and anxiety, and there are methods to reduce those feelings."
Understanding - Approach - Biases - Doctors - Interactions
That understanding could come through what's been termed the "weight inclusive approach," which seeks to eliminate biases that doctors might carry into interactions with their patients. Currently, most United States doctors follow what's been termed the "weight normative approach," in which benchmarks are set for body size and lead to specific advice and action.
Instead, Mensinger and others hope to implement the "weight inclusive approach," which would include training for health professionals to combat biases against individuals with higher weights and put a halt to unprompted discussions of body size.
Weight - Data - Point - Mensinger - Clues
"Weight is a data point, but that is it," Mensinger said. "Tracking how it changes might provide clues to things going on in someone's life and body, but it is much more complicated than we are made to believe."
Mensinger's study, published in the June edition of the journal Body Image, sought to provide a research-backed reason for why the weight inclusive approach would help.
Study - Survey - Women - Data - Participant
For the study's survey, more than 300 women participated. It recorded data used to calculate each participant's body mass...
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