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to think that you should still be taken seriously by your GP if you're obese?

(107 Posts)
parabella Wed 09-Dec-15 13:47:49

Just came back from the GP where we discussed some symptoms that are worrying me. First thing he says is 'well we won't do anything 'til you lose weight'.
Now I am losing weight but it's a slow process (lot's of weight to lose). Shouldn't I still get treated even if I'm not thinner yet?
I was quite persistent and he ended up telling me about potential cancer symptoms which I have and which he's agreed should be looked into further. But I have noticed his default attitude is to just say lose weight and expect me to leave. Does anyone else feel like this at the doctors?

AliceScarlett Wed 09-Dec-15 13:51:56

I'm assuming your GP has a valid reason based on his extensive medical training to not treat you until you have lost some weight. Are the symptoms something that will reduce/go away when you lose weight?

TTTatty Wed 09-Dec-15 13:53:24

No, I am over weight and have been to the doctor a fair bit over last year and not once has anyone suggested I lose weight. Have been quite surprised actually that they haven't.

Maybe try a different doctor? Possible cancer symptoms should not be ignored 'until you lose weight'

NerrSnerr Wed 09-Dec-15 14:01:16

It really depends what your symptoms are. Are they symptoms that are more likely to be attributed to weight instead of cancer?

Wolpertinger Wed 09-Dec-15 14:06:38

It would totally depend on the symptom. A lot of things are possible cancer symptoms - it's why we need doctors to work out whether the symptoms are likely due to cancer or much more likely due to something else. From what you've told us, we really can't judge.

Preminstreltension Wed 09-Dec-15 14:09:15

We won't do anything till you lose weight? Ok if you are talking about, say, knee problems that could be brought about by excess weight. Not ok if you are talking about cancer symptoms, flu, allergies, chest infections, almost anything else.

I went to my GP having hit rock bottom with depression, yet again. He decided that my weight was the cause of my depression, rather than being a symptom of it, and lectured me about my diet, whilst I grew more and more distressed.

In the end, I was on my feet, in floods of tears, about to leave the surgery (and God alone knows what would have happened, if I had left - I was pretty desperate, and in no fit state to drive, by that point), and he finally agreed to stop talking about my weight.

He then carried on referring to it as 'the thing we are not allowed to mention' - in a really sarcastic, passive-aggressive way.

I ended up having to find and organise my own therapy - and I made my first and only complaint about the NHS. I got an apology from the surgery, a grudging apology from the doctor, and I will never, ever set foot in his surgery again, even if I am at death's door.

This is the doctor, by the way, who told me that eating more vegetables, to fill up, when dieting, was a bad idea, because vegetables have calories too. The man is well known locally as a total numpty.

It doesn't matter if the OP's symptoms could have been due to her weight or could have been ameliorated by her losing weight. If the doctor's default position is "Lose weight - next patient, please!", they are, sooner or later, going to miss the symptoms of something serious that is not weight-related.

And in the meantime they are going to make all their overweight patients feel that there is no point in attending the surgery with any symptoms or illnesses whatsoever, because they will just get told to go away and lose weight - and again, sooner or later, someone will fail to attend the surgery with symptoms that are serious, and need immediate attention, because they know they will just be fobbed off again - and something will go untreated, with potentially life-threatening consequences.

Yes, obesity is serious - and yes, it causes a lot of health problems - but this sort of approach (a milder form of which I have met with from a number of GPs) is not going to make people lose weight, and is going to put them off seeing their GP when they really need to.

Yokohamajojo Wed 09-Dec-15 14:11:44

The problem is that the GP is possibly ignoring OPs symptoms because she is overweight. Overweight people can have illnesses not relating to their weight!! I don't think that's right in the slightest and think you should try and change doctors.

BowiesJumper Wed 09-Dec-15 14:11:56

If the symptoms are being exacerbated by being overweight then it is right that he tell you that and follow that as a first course of action (I speak as someone who lost 9 stone in order to get to a healthy weight so I am not unsympathetic.) although he could have phrased it in a more helpful manner.
Good luck!

DrGoogleWillSeeYouNow Wed 09-Dec-15 14:15:17

Depends on what your symptoms are, and what you mean by 'get treated'.

There's a difference between, say, suddenly bleeding from your bowel when you go for a poo, or coughing up blood, compared with general fatigue, aches, pains and swelling.

VestalVirgin Wed 09-Dec-15 14:18:32

Actually, even if it was knee problems, certainly something should be done to find out if they are actually caused by the weight?

And if an obese person has diabetes, shouldn't they still get insulin, even if the obesity contributes to the diabetes problem? (Okay, actually I think they should go low-carb and take as little insulin as possible, because that's healthier, but the done thing is to give them insulin, right?)

Find another GP. Being obese does contribute to your risk of breast cancer, among others, and what the GP should do is find out whether you have cancer, asap.

UtterlyClueless Wed 09-Dec-15 14:18:54

It would depend on your symptoms to be honest but if you're really unhappy get a second opinion.

EvaBING Wed 09-Dec-15 14:19:15

I am not overweight but have another problem. While in hospital with acute symptoms, a surgeon one day asked me why I had not gone to the GP for 9 months of having chronic symptoms and the only reason I could give was that 'I knew' it would be blamed on my 'other' problem. He was quite perplexed annoyed. With me. Lol.
Surgeons are not the most forgiving humane bunch!
If you end up in hospital - tell them in no uncertain terms that your symptoms were put down to being a direct result of obesity and all other possible causes/treatments were not considered. Then watch the shit hit the fan.

KoalaDownUnder Wed 09-Dec-15 14:28:26

Well said, SDTG.

Some of these doctors sound like total arseholes. angry

And no, I'm not overweight. But if I was, I'd like to think I could go to a doctor about other matters without my weight being the sole focus.

helenahandbag Wed 09-Dec-15 14:33:57

My old doctor was always on at me about my weight. I'd go in with a chest infection and I'd get, "okay, we'll just get you to pop on the scales..." confused

She tried to refer me to dietitian when I had conjunctivitis.

I've signed up with a new doctor now...

jamhot Wed 09-Dec-15 14:36:41

I've been a size 24-26 in the past. Doctors did seem to blame anything and everything on my weight.

As a healthy size 10-12, I feel they listened to me and saw me as an individual rather than just a morbidly obese person.

My problems turned out not to be weight related.

stairbears Wed 09-Dec-15 14:40:10

Went with a friend to her GP in the days before we didn't realise you could book straight in with a midwife. She got a lecture on how silly she had been to conceive as an unmarried woman, and she had better get married quickly. He also told her to lose weight.

Ask to speak to the practice manager OP to complain, and also ask to see another doctor.

Wolfiefan Wed 09-Dec-15 14:43:10

SDGT that's awful.
Of course you should be taken seriously OP. Unfortunately we don't know what your symptoms are.(don't expect you to share!) Sore knees or feeling tired can be to do with the weight for example If the GP has any reason to suspect your symptoms are not to do with your weight then they should be investigated.

littlemermaid80 Wed 09-Dec-15 14:43:12

Some of these doctors sound horrendous. My own GP has always been fine, he does nag about my weight (I'm about 5 stone over what I should be) but he doesn't attribute it to everything I see him about. He's also been very supportive of my weight loss.

OP I think I would feel like saying that yes, I am overweight, I'm fully aware of that, however it's not something that I can do about overnight! Without knowing the details of your appointment though, its hard to comment fully whether he was being U or not.

SDT that man sounds like an aggressive arse. You poor thing.

Garlick Wed 09-Dec-15 14:45:18

There's more joy ahead - as soon as you reach menopause, all your symptoms are down to being an older woman. If I went in and said my ears had fallen off, I'd be told to be more aware of my age and given a sedative hmm

One of the GPs in my local practice is also prone to telling all his patients they've got to lose weight before considering anything else. Even thin people! His patients laugh about it, but he still plants a seed of doubt in their minds, which is bad enough, and all the time he's failing to treat their ailments. A couple of months ago this prat failed to spot gangrene in a patient, who is now scheduled for an amputation angry

Obviously your doctor isn't wrong if the symptoms you went with are directly related to your obesity. If you aren't sure, see a different doctor!

Even if the GP is right, and the symptoms are directly related to obesity, losing weight is not always the only way to treat the symptoms.

We can't magically lose the weight overnight, and the symptoms may need immediate treatment, to prevent them getting worse, or causing further damage - so yes, in the long term, losing weight can be the best way to deal with these symptoms, but in the short term, the patient needs some other treatment as well.

jorahmormont Wed 09-Dec-15 14:51:26

This seems to be a really personal thing that varies from doctor to doctor. I'm a size 16-18, just lost three stone and dropped down from size 20 in the last 3 months from being poorly and still losing a lot of weight now. I've seen doctors throughout this illness who have never once suggested my weight is to blame - because there's no link to it at all. Then I've seen one doctor who has told me to lose weight - I pointed out I had already lost three stone unintentionally and was trying to find out why - and he said "hmm", and then told me to keep trying to lose weight! I think for some doctors, if they genuinely don't know what is wrong they can't be seen to hold their hands up and say nope, I'm stumped - so if they can blame it on weight, smoking, drinking, stress etc they will.

Garlick Wed 09-Dec-15 14:52:04

Yes, SDTG, you're right. I shouldn't have put that bit in.

I didn't mean to come across as snippy, Garlick - sorry.

Garlick Wed 09-Dec-15 15:01:36

Oh! No, you didn't fsmile

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