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Obes Facts. 2019;12(6):632-638. doi: 10.1159/000503751. Epub 2019 Nov 8.

Examining Weight Bias among Practicing Canadian Family Physicians.

Author information

1
Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Applied Physiology, Concordia University, Montreal, Québec, Canada, angela.alberga@concordia.ca.
2
Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The aim of this study was to examine the attitudes of practicing Canadian family physicians about individuals with obesity, their healthcare treatment, and perceptions of obesity treatment in the public healthcare system.

METHOD:

A national sample of Canadian practicing family physicians (n = 400) completed the survey. Participants completed measures of explicit weight bias, attitudes towards treating patients with obesity, and perceptions that people with obesity increase demand on the public healthcare system.

RESULTS:

Responses consistent with weight bias were not observed overall but were demonstrated in a sizeable minority of respondents. Many physicians also reported feeling frustrated with patients with obesity and agreed that people with obesity increase demand on the public healthcare system. Male physicians had more negative attitudes than females. More negative attitudes towards treating patients with obesity were associated with greater perceptions of them as a public health demand.

CONCLUSION:

Results suggest that negative attitudes towards patients with obesity exist among some family physicians in Canada. It remains to be determined if physicians develop weight bias partly because they blame individuals for their obesity and its increased demand on the Canadian public healthcare system. More research is needed to better understand causes and consequences of weight bias among health professionals and make efforts towards its reduction in healthcare.

KEYWORDS:

Family physicians; Healthcare; Obesity; Weight stigma

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