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When Is Your Baby Due and Other Unhelpful Weight Remarks From Health Professionals

sharma-obesity-warning-fingerYesterday, I dared asked you to send in the most unhelpful and ridiculous pieces of advice you have ever received from a health professionals.

I ended up fielding your comments all day – I certainly had heard a lot before but reading your comments as they came in certainly prove the point that we have a problem.

I think your responses scrape the tip of the iceberg in terms of some of the things that people with excess weight have to put up with when they dare seek professional help.

The comments, that make for great reading, range from those that are simply useless:

“Just put your fork and spoon down and go for a walk instead.”
“Don’t eat so many cookies.”
“Use your willpower!”
“Just stop bending your elbow.”
“Just follow Canada Food Guide.”
“Eat only fruit and nuts for a month.”
“Eat what your sister eats, look at her, she is thin.”

to those that are downright insulting:

“You might want to move to Turkey as they like hairy, fat women there.”
“What do you do, sit and eat a pound of butter a day”.
“It’s normal for overweight people to be short of breath when they are suddenly active.”
“Walrusses are not skinny and neither will you ever be.”
“Well, they lost weight it Auschwitz didn’t they?”

Guess there’s still plenty of work to be done – sigh!

Edmonton, AB


  1. I went to my gp, about a painful heel spur that I couldn’t even walk with, came out the appointment with a gym referral membership

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  2. It strikes me that a very public publication like a popular press article or short book with such quotes on Physician Heal Thine Attitude might shame some into improving, and might help new physicians recognize an area needing improvement.

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  3. I was on the delivery table, about to give birth when the nurse made a comment about my adipose tissue. I looked up at her and said….I am here in the room and why don’t you just call it what it is…fat! She was pretty embarrassed and from then on in she was very careful the terms she used around me.

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  4. Dr. Sharma, how would you as a teacher in the field of health sciences respond to a health professional who makes such comments.

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    • I would certainly educate that student about the importance of professional behaviour and perhaps suggest he read up on the complexity of obesity. Only simpletons believe that obesity is simple.

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  5. Thanks Dr. Sharma, instead of staying quiet and seethe inwardly next time my doctor tells me to stop eating rotis, I might suggest to him the same along with a little information on the staple diet of coastal people.

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  6. I went to a plastic surgeon, hoping that I could get some fat removed from my abdomen – I had a very awkward body shape. The doctor said that he didn’t want to offend me if I was Jewish, BUT did I know that there were no fat people in Auschwitz?

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  7. When I was 14 years old my weight was in the high end of normal on the BMI. My mother, although somewhat overweight at the time, had given birth to seven children over a span of ten years. I my family doctor regarding a problem I was having with back pain. The doctor talked to me briefly about the back pain, then told me what I really needed to address was my weight. He said to me “you don’t want to turn out like your mother.”

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  8. I’ve heard a lot of ignorant comments from doctors over the years, too many to list honestly. But the most demoralizing experience I’ve ever had was when I went in for my yearly exam. My doctor performed a complete physical in less than 10 minutes and throughout the exam she expressed her disgust at having to touch me in any way. I felt less than human, absolutely demoralized, I laid on the table and wept. The doctor left the room without saying anything to me and sent a nurse in with a lab requisition and instructions. The nurse was very compassionate and apologized for the doctors behaviour. I never went back to that doctor or any other doctor for a very long time.

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  9. Sorry – post should read “I went to my family doctor regarding a problem…”

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  10. Although I know I am a bit overweight, I’ve never thought I would hear my doctor whom I have had since I was 3 say what she said. During an examination, she was putting pressure on my abdomen trying to feel for any rumours or cysts. She the looked at me and said ” I can’t feel anything. You’re too fat around the waist for an accurate examination.” Needless to say, I was very upset.

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