Please Stop Assuming Obese People Are Lazy and Only Eat Fast Food

The reality of being obese and why we need more empathy

Kristie Leong M.D.


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America has a problem. Too many insensitive people assume those who are obese got that way by being lazy and overindulging in high-calorie food. Here’s a typical conversation I’ve had with people who are the victim of this:

Patient: “I can’t take it anymore. Everywhere I go, I feel like people are judging me because of my weight. It’s like they think I’m lazy or that I don’t care about my health. I try so hard to lose weight, but nothing works. I’ve even been turned down for jobs and even for apartments because of my weight.”

Doctor: “I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. Discrimination based on weight is a serious issue and it’s not fair. Can you tell me more about the steps you’re taking to lose weight? Are you following a specific diet or exercise plan?”

Patient: “I eat healthy and exercise but it’s hard because of my knee pain. I’ve been to a few different doctors, and they all say the same thing, that I need to lose weight, but no one will help me with my knee pain.”

Doctor: “I can understand how frustrating that must be. I can help by referring you to a specialist for your knee pain. At the same time, I would like to help you set realistic weight loss goals and develop a plan to help you reach them. Remember, weight loss is a journey and it takes time, patience and consistency.

Patient: “Thank you, doctor. I appreciate your understanding and support.”

Doctor: “Of course. I’m here to help in any way that I can. You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of your weight.”

A similar conversation plays over and over in healthcare offices across the country and it irks me that people are so insensitive. The obesity epidemic is real, but we play the blame game and assume it’s all their fault.

We consciously and unconsciously make assumptions about obese people without knowing what contributes to their weight gain.

Eating and exercise habits DO play a role in weight gain but so do factors like genetics, hormones, and lifestyle choices. Plus, some obese people have medical…



Kristie Leong M.D.

Family physician who believes proper nutrition for optimal health & disease prevention.