Rebirth of Reason

Hefty complaint leveled against doc
Posted by Andrew Bissell on 8/28, 10:11pm
Note from the poster: Chris Sciabarra's computer is down, so he asked me to post this item for him.


No one likes to be told they're fat.

But a New Hampshire woman who was sternly lectured by her doctor about being obese has taken her hurt feelings to a new level - filing an official complaint against him with state health authorities.

The New Hampshire case, while rare, highlights an increasing problem in the fight against obesity - how does a doctor sensitively tell a patient that he or she is overweight?

The patient - whose name was not released - was upset after Dr. Terry Bennett, a Harvard-educated family practitioner in Rochester, N.H., told her she was obese and her weight was contributing to her diabetes and other health problems.

Bennett also told the 5-foot-7, 250-pound woman that she was statistically likely to outlive her also-obese husband and that she would have a hard time finding a new man as a fat woman. "I talked to an obese patient, told her the truth, she was offended," Bennett told NBC's "Today" show yesterday.Sandy Schaffer, the New York chapter chairwoman of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, said Bennett's tactics appear to have been unnecessarily hurtful and possibly counterproductive.

"What psychology textbook says that humiliation can be motivating?" she asked.

Dr. Richard Sardovsky, associate professor of family practice at SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, said doctors "are under increasing pressure to do more to encourage patients to lose weight." Obesity, he said, "is a serious problem among Americans. But some [doctors] can go a little too far about it."

Dr. Darwin Deen, professor of family and social medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, teaches his medical students that it's a doctor's duty to address obesity. "You can't let them think it's okay and we won't talk about it," he tells his students. "It's just like smoking."

Deen, who co-authored "Nutrition for Life," suggested that doctors avoid discussing weight loss and focus instead on getting patients to eat better and exercise.
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