Tips on Obtaining Good Health Care

Ragen Chastain, author of the Dances With Fat blog, wrote a blog post providing suggestions for how to talk to health care professionals. She also includes files to print up on paper or postcards to give your doctor. They briefly introduce HAES and include links to further research.

Ragen's blog includes many other posts about seeking health care while fat.

Mara Nesbitt, creator of Yoga for Large People videos (no longer available) has contributed a great article on interviewing doctors to obtain good health care. Read it here.

Hanne Blank, author of Big, Big Love (web site at, has contributed a letter she used when visiting a new physician. Read it here.

Tracey Carr, an advocate for health care for fat people in the UK, maintains a page of some fat people's answers to the question "What do you wish your Doctor knew?". This is useful as an example of issues that fat people sometimes experience when visiting health professionals. Not all health professionals do these things. Read it here (Offsite link).

The site Plus Size Birth has a post about finding a size friendly healthcare provider.

To obtain the best health care from any professional, it's good to be informed, to know what you want, and to speak up for yourself.

Tip: Keep records

Health professionals can treat you best if you provide them with as much information as you can. Keep records of health problems you've had and how they were treated, positive and negative experiences with medicines and other treatments you've undergone. If you know that a particular problem recurs, give the professional as much information as you have about the circumstances under which it recurs. This may help avoid a misdiagnosis.

Tip: Bring an advocate

If you are uncomfortable with health professionals, you can bring along an advocate (a friend or SO) to help you communicate.

Tip: Write down questions beforehand

If you have questions you want to ask, you can write them down beforehand. You will then remember what to ask, and in some cases can even give the professional your list of questions.

Tip: Set up an interview

When seeking a new health professional, you can often set up an appointment to interview him or her (in person or over the phone) before scheduling an actual medical appointment. This will allow you to discuss your concerns without the vulnerability you might feel in the examining room.

Tip: Send a letter

If you know how you want to be treated (for example, if you don't want to be weighed) but don't want to risk a verbal confrontation, you can send a letter outlining your wishes to the office before your appointment, or upon your arrival you can give the staff a letter to be kept in your file. If you have a preferred treatment philosophy (for example, if you prefer to avoid being given drugs if other treatments are available) you can describe it in the letter.

Tip: Be sensitive, but not oversensitive

A health professional may mention your weight from time to time. It is important that he or she tell you all the things that might contribute to your condition. Mentioning that weight may be a factor is not the same as telling you to lose weight. On the other hand, if a health professional mentions your weight in the context of treating you for a condition entirely unrelated to weight, such as a sinus infection, that probably warrants a comment that you want to be treated for the condition you came in with, not for your weight.

If you are concerned you might interpret your professional's statements in the wrong way, bringing along a supportive advocate might help. You can compare notes and impressions afterward.

To Fat Friendly Health Professionals Page

Last updated: 14 June 2015
Created by: Stef
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Copyright 1997-2001 Stef Jones. Tips copyright the authors.