Last updated: Dec 20, 2009
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Here, ways women can speak out for better care and more respectful treatment—and get the help they need to reach a healthier weight:

Find a physician who isnt fatphobic.
Ask for referrals from heavier friends. Doctors who have struggled with their own weight may be more understanding.

Take a friend with you.
“A clinician is much less likely to treat someone badly when theres a witness,” says Pat Lyons, RN, co-developer of A Big Womans Passport to Best Health, a guide to overcoming barriers to health care.

Be your own advocate.
Have your doc run your numbers so you have all of your measures of health, from body mass index (BMI) to cholesterol and blood sugar. Ask for an assessment of your health based on the big picture.

Ask for tools.
Tell your doctor youre interested in sustainable health habits, like walking and eating right. Request a reasonable healthy weight and BMI range so you have goal.

Dig deeper.
If youve tried and tried and still cant lose weight, insist that your doc give you more help. For some people theres a medical reason for weight gain that goes beyond lifestyle choices, including medications or conditions that might cause weight gain. “Were trying to educate doctors so they provide obese women with more sensitive and in-depth care,” says Keith Bachman, MD, a weight-management expert with Kaiser Permanentes Care Management Institute. The goal: to help doctors see the whole patient and look for all the possible causes of weight gain.

Stick to your symptoms.
During your visit say, “Here are the symptoms Im concerned about. I know some health problems can be caused by weight, but Id like you to focus on the symptoms Im here to see you about.”

Get the doctor you deserve.
If you feel your doctor isnt giving you the kind of care you deserve, find a new one. “When I asked physicians what they would do if they perceived a negative attitude from their doctor, each one said he or she would find another doctor,” says Harvards Jerome Groopman, MD. Its your right to do the same.