Under-diagnosed and poorly treated: Eating disorders in larger bodies image
S4 E6 · Butterfly: Let's Talk
Under-diagnosed and poorly treated: Eating disorders in larger bodies
0 Plays
6 months ago

We’re talking about the higher-weight paradox, particularly when well-meaning health professionals can trigger an eating disorder or make one worse. 

Not everything health issue is solved by losing weight, yet that is what people in larger bodies too often hear. Worse, numerous people living with eating disorders remain undiagnosed and untreated because the stereotype of an eating disorder doesn’t fit their reality.   

Melissa says she had an eating disorder from age 12 but wasn’t diagnosed until age 22. In fact, her unhelpful behaviours were encouraged: “All that my doctors cared about was for me to lose weight,” she says. 

Professor Leah Brennan of Latrobe University reports that eating disorders occur across the size spectrum and the prevalence of eating disorders is actually greater in people in larger bodies. 

One problem, says GP Samantha Wyton, is that people in non-typical body shapes and sizes are too often made to feel unsafe and unwelcome in medical settings. 

“We’re taught that obesity is a disease in medical training,” she says. But it’s a lot more complex than that. “We need to embrace the full spectrum of shapes and sizes, because that’s the reality of the human condition.”   

Dietitian Dr Fiona Willer, agrees. “The effect of weight centrism, particularly in primary care, is that people will delay going to the doctor until they can’t avoid it,” she says. And that effectively creates an issue for all their health outcomes, not only body image and eating disorders. 

Listen to Sam unpack this issue with our group of concerned and articulate guests, including their thoughts about how we can and must change.

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