Fat Folks Deserve Medical Care That Isn’t Aimed At Weight Loss; Alison Reiheld, PhD, Professor of Philosophy at SIU–Edwardsville

Women reading books on dieting and eating.

Medicine, and science in general, have an unfortunate tendency to conceive of health as an ideal state. Patients are then judged as having failed when they do not achieve it. Doctors and nurses are judged as having failed if they do not continue to push their patients to achieve an ideal state. But patients exist in the world with the bodies they actually have. And those actual, non-ideal bodies deserve actual medical care, right now, as they are. Sadly, fat folks too often are told to “lose weight” by medical professionals before they are fully evaluated for their health needs. How would seeking health care be different for fat folks–and other folks with stigmatized health statuses–if medicine sought to achieve a less idealized version of health that actually meets people where they are.