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Juniper Journal

Fear of GP judgement: The dangers of weight bias at the doctors

Weight bias is a sad reality in healthcare but telehealth can help combat it.

Fear of GP judgement: The dangers of weight bias at the doctors
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Starting your weight loss journey can feel quite daunting. Perhaps you’re scared of not reaching your fitness goals, feel like you don’t have time to fully commit, or simply don’t know where to start.

Things become even trickier when those who are supposed to help and support you make you feel judged instead. Weight bias is a sad reality in healthcare and one that we’re committed to fighting. We’ll explain how.

What is weight bias?

According to the World Obesity Federation, weight bias refers to “the discriminatory acts and ideologies targeted towards individuals because of their weight and size” [1].

Unfortunately, weight bias can happen anywhere: at the gym, the office, among friends and family, and even in healthcare settings. 

While in theory, the doctor’s office should be a safe space to talk about all things health-related, the reality is that women all across Australia have experienced GP judgement — and the impact of this goes way beyond their own weight loss journey.

How does weight bias affect women in Australia?

At Juniper, our mission is to empower Australian women to discover a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. To achieve this, it was important for us to understand the degree to which weight stigma impacts women’s well-being — and what better way than going straight to the source?

Late last year, we surveyed 1,000 Australian women aged 35-65 about their experiences with healthcare professionals, and what we found is that many have been reluctant to involve their GP in their weight management programs for a variety of reasons. 

Fear of judgement was the most significant one — sitting at 31% — but other reasons included having to step on scales in the consultation room (23%), the erroneous belief that all a GP can do is offer exercise or dietary advice (27%), and the belief that weight loss is something they should be able to manage on their own (24%). 

One of the most concerning findings, though, was that 52% reported feeling judged for their weight by their healthcare professional, which deterred 72% of them from seeking medical advice not only for their weight but other health areas of concern. 

This avoidance of professional help can leave already health-compromised women at risk, costing them and the Australian health system dearly. To give you an idea of what we mean by ‘dearly’: currently, 2 in 3 Australian adults are overweight or obese, and this costs the economy over $11.8 billion per annum [2][3].

But it’s not all bad news.

Women are keen to get healthy, with 96% of respondents saying they'd lose weight to gain long-term health benefits. The problem is that many simply aren’t aware of the full suite of options available to them. 

The motivation is there, but the knowledge is lacking. We can help fix this.

How telehealth can help

Telehealth can help combat weight bias for a simple reason: it’s more accessible and less confronting. Telehealth programs like Juniper’s empower people with the knowledge they need to kickstart their weight loss journey, at their convenience and from the comfort of their own homes.

In our research, we found that 19% of women weren't aware that they could access prescription medications for weight loss instead of relying solely on diet and exercise — both of which are difficult for most to maintain long enough to return lasting results

If you feel like you’ve tried everything without much success, a combination of prescription medication and holistic support services may just be the missing piece to kick-start your metabolic reset, finally lose weight, and keep it off.

Delivered via telehealth consultations with a team of specialist allied health professionals, Juniper’s Weight Reset Program takes a holistic approach to weight loss and helps you reduce hunger, curb cravings, and improve metabolic function.

And it works: to date, our program has helped more than 22,000 women on their weight loss journeys with over 17,000kgs lost [4].

It’s more than just weight loss

Thousands of Australian women have found new confidence with Juniper.

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