Students training to enter the health service need better teaching in order to prevent discrimination against obese patients, a study suggests.Eh..?
What are they doing, then? Whipping them with wet towels in the gym? Laughing and pointing as they waddle through the surgery door? Leaving copies of ‘Billy Bunter’ in the waiting rooms?
Researchers said previous work had found high levels of "anti-fat prejudice" among health professionals.Well, that’s hardly surprising, is it? After all, there’s no end of anti-obesity drives in the NHS, schools, offices, just about everywhere. It's constantly harped on, and blamed for lack of funding in the NHS.
Expecting medics to not be a touch ‘anti-obese’ would therefore be like expecting Rentokil operators to be sanguine about having a cockroach infestation in their home…
But a trial of 159 students, reported in the Obesity journal, found this prejudice could easily be influenced.Oh oh. I see where this is going….
Teaching about the effect of genes and the environment on obesity was key to cutting discrimination, it reported.
In the latest study, 159 students taking a seven-week course on public health, some of whom were training to be nurses, were split into three groups.Umm, in what way is ‘junk food advertising’ an uncontrollable reason for obesity?
One was taught solely about diet and exercise being the main cause and treatment for obesity.
And another group was taught about uncontrollable reasons for obesity - such as genetics and environmental factors such as junk-food advertising.
The third "control" group was taught about alcohol.
Have they come up with a new billboard that sprouts mechanical arms as you walk past, scoops you up and force-feeds you burgers?
Can you now absorb trans-fats just by handling a pizza flyer that someone has pushed through your letter box?
And I can’t even begin to think what they mean by ‘the environment’…
They then underwent a series of tests to measure subconscious or "implicit" prejudice about obesity, as well as outspoken or "explicit" views.Well, yes. This points out that those who – absent an actual medical condition or illness – are fat are doing one of two things wrong (maybe both) – eating too much, or not doing enough exercise.
The results showed that those who had been taught a standard obesity programme based on diet and exercise scored 27% higher on implicit or subconscious measures of prejudice.
Both well within their own ability to resolve.
But those taught about genetic and environmental causes scored 27% lower on a test of implicit prejudice and there was a drop in scores on the explicit discrimination tests.Well, naturally. You’ve taught them that it’s not their fault! They are assailed by wicked, evil forces beyond their control.
Study leader Dr Kerry O'Brien, a lecturer at the University of Manchester, said being taught solely about diet and exercise implied that obese people were just lazy and gluttonous, but to a large extent weight status is inherited and health professionals needed to be aware of other influences.Oh, FFS..!
He said "blaming the individual" was not always obvious but could mean doctors or nurses spent less time with obese patients or did not take their problems as seriously.Well, if the doctor tells a patient ‘You need to eat less and exercise more’ and the patient starts whining about how it’s not their fault but the environment and the junk food advertisers, who could blame them..?
"The key is not to be stigmatising these patients.Not to mention gravity…
"Making people feel bad about their condition is not going to help."
He added: "Obese people are constantly fighting their physiology and environment.
Now, you may think this is a fuss about nothing. Haven't people always made excuses? 'He's just big boned!' 'It's glandular!' 'She'll grow out of it, it's just puppy fat!'
But those excuses were never implying that the cause of obesity was other people - rich junk food companies, their parents, etc.
As we all know, these days, it isn't so much a case of where there's blame, there's a claim. But where there's blame, there's a quango, and regulation and stealth taxes to absolve us of the 'wrongdoing'. And slowly and surely, we build a society where people no longer look to themselves to resolve issues, but to others to blame them on and government to make it all better.
And I think we've already gone far too far down that road...