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Weight Bias Among Health Care Professionals Can Have Serious Consequences

Weight bias from health care professionals can lead some older adults to avoid medical appointments.

Concerns that they will be unfairly judged or stigmatized about their weight can make some midlife and older adults feel reluctant to make a medical appointment, according to a recent AARP survey.

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While most adults age 50-plus have not experienced negative comments about their weight, women age 50-plus and adults ages 50–64 are more likely than other older adults to say they have postponed or foregone scheduling a medical appointment for that reason. Women are also more likely than men to say that knowing they'll be weighed makes them less likely to schedule medical appointments.

Black and Hispanic adults 50-plus are more likely to say they have experienced some mistreatment during a medical appointment, including having someone taking their measurements make a negative comment about their weight or not having the right equipment to accommodate their size.


The Medical Appointments study was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago among a sample of U.S. adults ages 50 and older through their Foresight 50+ Consumer Omnibus. The survey asked individuals about their attitudes toward checking in procedures at medical appointments. The mixed mode (online and phone) survey interviews averaged four minutes in length. The interviews were conducted in English, April 22–26, 2022. A total of 1,037 interviews were completed.

For more information, please contact Teresa A. Keenan at For media inquiries, contact External Relations at