Fat Shaming in Medicine: Overview of Alternative Patient Strategies
As the rate of obesity-related diseases rise, physicians are spending more time in their practices working to motivate patients to lose weight. Historically, to change the lifestyle behaviors of patients, physicians have detailed the consequences of excess weight gain and offered predictions of obesity-related complications and early demise. Although this motivational technique has been widely used in medicine, this “tough love” educational approach can have unintended consequences and be ineffective or even harmful in some patients. Behavioral change models and the positive psychology literature provide tools and methods to assist providers in the care of patients living with or at risk of weight-related morbidity and mortality. These techniques motivate patients without unintentionally disempowering them or their families.