Dr Oz: Undercover Obesity Experiment & Weight Bias in Medicine

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Dr Oz Goes Undercover

Obesity is a topic that has come up frequently in five years of The Dr Oz Show. But for the first time, Dr Oz got to experience it firsthand when he went undercover in a fat suit. What did his obesity experiment teach him about weight bias in medicine?

Dr Oz spent four hours having prosthetics, makeup, and a fat suit applied, complete with hidden cameras. Then he hit the streets, and the first thing he noticed was how much harder it was to walk at his normal speed. On the whole, this was a decent disguise, but the fat suit was weirdly lumpy in a way that made it seem obviously fake.

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Dr Oz: Obesity Experiment

Dr Oz: Undercover Obesity Experiment & Weight Bias in Medicine

Dr Oz put on a fat suit to go undercover in public and see what it is really like for obese patients. Learn more about weight bias in the medical community.

Dr Oz said he noticed people snickering and laughing at him on the street, while avoiding eye contact with him. He took a bus ride and found a spot to sit, only to have the woman next to him change seats.

Then he went to a shopping mall food court, where he chose a non-Oz approved meal and struck up conversations with strangers about weight and health advice from doctors. One woman told him she had a fear of going to the doctor.

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Dr Oz Undercover Fat Suit

Another woman said she had to take time to find a doctor who focused on her and did not rush her out. Other women said they attempt to avoid being weighed during their medical appointments.

Dr Oz said he felt like people were looking at him like a “circus animal,” and his self-esteem was affected by his time in the costume. Back in the studio and out of his costume, Dr Oz was reunited with one of the people he met during his experiment.

Jill elaborated on how she took a reactive rather than proactive approach to health due to her opinion of doctors. She said that the stress she had at even the thought of going to a doctor kept her away.

Dr Oz: Finding the Right Doctor

What did Jill want to say to doctors who treat obese patients? “Remember that you are a healer, and that people rely on you and your expertise and your guidance. And they’re looking for a partner, someone with compassion,” she said. “People don’t want to be unhealthy, and they need doctors who are experts in the health field to really help them.”

Jill was happy to tell Dr Oz that she has finally found a doctor who cares about her. She said she was very surprised to learn that it was Dr Oz she met that day.

Dr Oz: Weight Bias in Medicine

Dr Caroline Apovian, an obesity expert (and smoothie diet creator), spoke to Dr Oz about physicians (and everyday people) who judge people for their weight. She said that the American Medical Association now considers Obesity a disease.

“People with obesity are discriminated against because many people still feel that your weight problems are a matter of personal responsibility, a matter of willpower,” she said, saying that the bias is widespread among medical professionals.

Dr Apovian said she and many others are working to raise awareness about Obesity as a disease, encouraging medical professionals to make patients feel welcome, by having facilities and medical tools that are appropriate for patients, no matter what their size.

Dr Oz: Truth Tube Weight

“It’s not about fault or blame,” Dr Oz said, making changes to the way he approaches obesity on the show. He said that patients and doctors don’t need to see the number on the scale to tell whether you are overweight.

He said patients should not be avoiding the doctor because they do not want to be weighed. He also has decided not to display guests’ weight on the Dr Oz Truth Tube anymore.

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