Doctors Should Consider Weigh-In Worries

Is the scale in your medical office in a common area, where visitors can view the patient being weighed in? If so, there’s an excellent chance that some of your patients, especially women, are skipping needed

“I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is 14 days.”

—Totie Fields

Is the scale in your medical office in a common area, where visitors can view the patient being weighed in? If so, there’s an excellent chance that some of your patients, especially women, are skipping needed office visits because they don’t want their weigh-in to be public. A recent University of Pennsylvania study showed that women felt a high degree of distress when faced with the prospect of being weighed in front of others.

The researchers concluded that this fear of being weighed before strangers may be causing many women, especially those who are overweight and already at risk for certain illnesses, to forego doctor visits. The heavier a person is, said Andrew B. Geier, the report’s lead author and a Penn doctoral candidate, the more likely they are to skip doctor appointments, even though they may be the patients most in need of medical care. The solution for the doctor’s staff can be simple and inexpensive—just move the weigh-in scale to a private area.

70%Percentage of US women (age 20+) who are overweight or obese.(American Heart Association, 2008)