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Fighting Fat: Journal of the American Medical Association

9:25 AM, Apr 7, 2010   |    comments
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Surveys of health care professionals have shown a certain stigma towards overweight and obese patients. Some battling weight issues may experience discrimination but does it happen with their healthcare?

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found while it may be true that some physicians and other health providers harbor negative attitudes toward obesity or the obese, it doesn't lead to lower quality care.

Dr. Virginia Chang, of the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed common outpatient procedures performed at VA Hospitals from 2003 to 2004.

She did not find any evidence that a person's weight caused them to receive less care.  In fact she found the opposite.

"We found that these groups often receive slightly better care on several of our measures," Dr. Chang says.

She studied older patients with chronic disease such as diabetes and found the same.

"If you look at the Medicare population, at diabetes care and you consider whether patients with diabetes are having their sugar or glucose monitored in a timely fashion, the proportion that are getting that care successfully is 74 percent for obese patients compared to only 62 percent for normal weight patients," Dr. Chang says.

Researchers believe these findings may help explain why the risk of death associated with obesity is not as high as it used to be.

"I think our results suggest that physicians might be a little bit more aggressive in modifying risk factors for obese patients," Dr. Chang adds.   

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