A new study suggests that most students from the medical field are unintentionally biased against obese people.
Discrimination to the obese population has now reached the medical industry based on the data presented by the research team from Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston Salem, North Carolina. This is alarming because it may directly affect how patients are treated.
The research team gave an assessment called Implicit Association Test to the third-year medical students. The test was designed to identify the hidden biases of a participant based on the length of time he spent to describe a word. Each word comes with an illustration of either a thin or obese person.
The findings revealed that almost 39 percent of the medical students had moderate to strong bias against obese people while 17 percent were biased against thin people. Almost 67 percent were unaware that they have bias against obese patients.
The team clarified that it the results of their study should not be used to generalize the medical profession. Further studies should be conducted to prove that this is applicable to the entire industry.
David Miller, associate professor from the Internal Medicine-General Internal Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, explained how bias can affect the doctor's response to the patient.
"If doctors assume obese patients are lazy or lack willpower, they will be less likely to spend time counseling patients about lifestyle changes they could make," he said. "Doctors also may be less likely to recommend formal weight loss programs if they assume their patient is unlikely to follow through."
It will also make less the doctors less effective since the patient may feel that the doctor doesn't him respect him and will affect trust that is crucial to an effective patient-physician relationship."
Complete details of the study were published on online journal Academic Medicine.