I came across this disturbing article the other day about weight bias among future dietitians. A new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed only two percent of future dietitians have positive or neutral attitudes towards obese individuals with the rest moderately biased.
Dietetic students were asked questions about both a normal weight male and female as well as an obese male and female with the same health characteristics other than weight. The results indicated that the majority of the 182 students who participated viewed obese patients' self control, attractiveness, eating habits, compliance to treatment, self-esteem, and insecurity negatively.
Although this may show that dietitians are not immune to weight bias, this can impact treatment negatively. What patient wants insensitivity by a professional? How can a patient learn to trust her/his dietitian and get though the treatment plan?
This makes me wonder what dietitians think of eating disorder patients as first impressions. Do they think we are all stubborn, non-compliant? Do they feel some of us are too thin or too fat to be there? Whatever stereotype a dietitian or any other professional may hold affects both the patient relationship and treatment in the long run. No one needs stigma held over them. Perhaps, stigma reduction classes, similar to medical students compassion training classes, should be implemented into in the class curriculum, as well as positive role models and mentors who do not reflect weight bias.
Note--this is only a small study with a mostly Caucasian group, so there might be differences in ethnicity attitudes. This also can obviously not be a clear generalization, as with any profession, there are always the good apples and the bad.