Pride, prejudice, and public health

Recently, Citizens Medical Center, a hospital in Texas, announced that it is not going to hire anybody–doctors, nurses, staff–who is overweight. For them, that means a body mass index of over 35 (which still classifies as “obese,” mind you).

Some companies have already begun similar health-related hiring initiatives. Like business who refuse to hire smokers. But this is the first institution I know of to draw a line in the sand and say, “We are not going to hire overweight people.”

Of course, this decision is being met with the sort of public outcry you’d expect—about the ethics and legality of this decision.

But believe it or not, there are very few laws against “overweight discrimination.”

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how I feel this issue. I hate for any group to be discriminated against for one particular thing that makes them, well…them. Yet, a part of me feels that this issue isn’t about personal prejudices. Obesity is a public health crisis that cuts across race, gender, sexuality.

Physicians and health care workers should be role models for their patients. If they themselves knew how to be healthy, eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis, it would be easier to encourage and teach others.

That’s not to say that you can’t learn–or teach–these things by other methods. But I know having an overweight nurse or physician tell me to lose weight and exercise more would leave me underwhelmed.

And the truly frustrating part is that it’s really not that hard to do. I do it. And have done it for many years. Which makes it easy for me to advise people how to eat at a restaurant… How to go on vacation without gaining weight… How to exercise in a hotel room. Because I know from personal experience.

Experience that I’ll continue to share with you, too–right here in the Reality Health Check, and in the monthly issues of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter.