Fat People Aren’t Just ‘Lazy’ Says Scientific Study

A recent study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine discovered what many in the fat acceptance movement have been saying for years: weight loss isn’t as easy as simply eating less or exercising a little more. It turns out a significant portion of these people have a disability that keeps them from staying active. In fact, many people with mobility issues also have chronic illnesses which may also be affecting their metabolism, energy levels and weight.

In the current rush to officially label and treat obesity as a “disease,” this bears some serious thought. Studies already show that fat patients have trouble getting doctors to take them seriously. Doctors seeing overweight patients tend to spend less time with the patient, engage in less discussion, and are often reluctant to even perform routine preventative health screenings.

The reluctance to see anything but a patient’s weight can even be dangerous. Often, doctors will assume any complaint a fat patient might have is connected to their weight and try to avoid tests or treatment of the actual, underlying issue. In some cases, they may choose treatments that may not be the most effective or prescribe medications with nasty side effects, all in an effort to “help” their patient lose weight. After encountering these attitudes, it should come as no surprise that many overweight and obese people avoid going to the doctor unless absolutely necessary, which is a health risk all on its own.

By treating obesity as a disease, doctors may be missing the real reason for a patient’s health problems. They may even be missing the medical cause of the patient’s obesity — like polycystic ovarian syndrome, low thyroid function and mood disorders such as depression. Even certain prescription medications can cause weight gain, and in those situations, it may be healthier to just carry the extra weight.

By treating the symptoms as the disease in need of a cure, doctors are actually setting these patients up to fail when they attempt a new diet or exercise routine. What they really need in order to lose unhealthy weight is proper treatment of their condition or accommodations for their disability. For some, the weight may never come off no matter how hard they try. It doesn’t mean they’re lazy. They still deserve access to high-quality medical care.

Luckily, some organizations out there have been advocating for more sensitive treatment of overweight and obese patients, so that they feel safe visiting the doctor and can decide on the treatment plan that is best suited to their personal needs. At the same time, more patients are learning how to stand up for themselves when confronted with doctors who refuse to address their actual symptoms.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

Interesting. The overweight people I know are mostly just lazy. And they eat what they want, how much they want, when they want. no one takes an obese person seriously as they chow through a box of little debbies and a big mac. Some have true issues, but so many do not, and try to use that as an excuse. It isn't always easy to make healthy choices but being 500lbs? Come on now

Lindsay P.
Lindsay Partin4 years ago

I am not obese, but I am overweight. I will admit that I don't always make the healthiest choices in food, but I do eat the healthy stuff more often than not. I have a disability that doesn't always make it easy to work out. Sometimes I just feel so weak that stretching out on the couch is about all I can do (I have myotonic muscular dystrophy). It's not a fast progressing form of md, but I have noticed progression since I was diagnosed in 2000. I have worked really hard in loosing weight. One month I weighed myself then started a vigorous (to me) regimen of exercise and diet. I ate less processed food and more fruits and vegetables. I logged my calories, exercise and how much water I drank. After a little over a month of this, I thought that I should have lost a little bit of weight, and weighed myself again. I didn't loose anything but my self-esteem for a while. It can be disenheartening. I keep trying, but lately my energy level hasn't been too high, but I keep plugging away, hoping for something. Also, the people I work with constantly criticising what I eat doesn't help. I bring a salad for lunch they say I eat like a bird. I bring leftovers from sunday dinner (sometimes baked chicken and mashed potatoes) they say I eat too much. If I could eat my lunch at my desk, trust me I would.

Debra L. Watson
Debra L Watson4 years ago

Oh my, I totally agree!

Jim S.
Jim S4 years ago

Bear in mind that any explanations for obesity, whether of an individual or a group, must square with the dramatic rise in obesity since roughly the 1970's. Most of these alternative-theories of obesity fail in that regard. When we tally things that have changed in America during the past 50 years, they are:

1) Decreased physical activity in employment, recreation, and casual tasks
2) Increased calorie density of commercial food
3) Increased prevalence and lower price of commercial food
4) Increased advertising of commercial food, especially to children

Things that have not changed are:

1) Genetics (including any genetics-mediated disabilities or metabolic conditions)
2) The laws of chemistry and physics

If your theory of obesity does not incorporate one or more of the four variables above, or postulates a change in one of the two constants below, you've got some explaining to do.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G4 years ago

Maybe a lot of them suffer from f....d up metabolism, caused by the non-food or pesticide ridden food they consume...

Sandi C.
Sandi C4 years ago


Stephanie Warm
Stephanie Warm4 years ago

Thank you for this article. This is all-too-common practice by doctors, and it makes me very angry. By the same token, it bothers me that doctors assume that, just because a person is "thin" or has what society perceives as an "acceptable" body weight, the person is healthy. This has happened to me, when indeed I was sick enough to the point that I really needed to be in a hospital (and indeed ended up in one about a week after seeing my doctor and essentially being told that I was fine). I try to avoid doctors now (not the best thing, I know), mostly because I don't want them to weigh me, make certain assumptions, or talk to me about nutrition or exercise (without actually having any knowledge in that area, as they don't really learn about that in medical school). I should add, I don't mean to speak negatively about all doctors.

Janet N.
Janet N4 years ago

Thank you.

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago


Franck Rio
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing