Disturbing Conversation on Overweight Healthcare Workers

  1. I overheard a disturbing conversation of nurses who were saying that overweight people should not be working in healthcare. They were basically saying that patients do not respect health advice or treatment from a worker who is unhealthy themselves. I am posting this topic because I wonder if this is a shared sentiment among the medical field? Or from patients? Or has anyone experienced anything related to this? Like getting fired, or discriminated by either pateints or a facility and such? Are there ever clauses in facility contracts that employees must maintain optimal heath to represent the industry's interest? (I am in Vegas & yes casinos do enforce waitresses/dealers with a +/- 5 lbs. original hiring weight monitoring weekly). I hope this is not what nursing school meant by "take care of ourselves before we can take care of others." Honestly, I dont think like this but wonder if others in healthcare do? Is this really a "thing?"

    BTW, they were referencing a theme of nurses who gained weight from emotional overeating. They were not referencing a physiological underlying condition. ~ Thank You ~

    Why Are So Many Nurses and Healthcare Workers Overweight and Unhealthy?
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 18, '17
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    About FutureDNP2021, RN

    Joined: Jul '16; Posts: 46; Likes: 59

    283 Comments

  3. by   TriciaJ
    This issue has been raised many times. Yes, ideally we would all look the part. Funny Press-Ganey hasn't added it to the survey. The reality is that nurses are people, just like everyone else. The same factors that are making everyone fatter are taking their toll on us, too.

    Add to that jobs where it is impossible to get proper breaks and people having to grab empty calories to maintain blood sugar and stave off fatigue. Exercising after work for many is a physical impossibility. Nurses are still conditioned to put everyone else first despite what their instructors have told them.

    Many of us have spent years running on empty and our bodies reflect it. I am very fortunate to have a job now where I can take care of my own needs, too. That wasn't always the case.
  4. by   MrChicagoRN
    Yeah, what she said. Nursing is a busy, 24/7 operation which is not conducive to good health habits.

    Maybe I should start smoking, purging, or doing coke so I can become more slender
  5. by   Ruby Vee
    There is no way to tell how healthy your nurse is just by looking at her. An overweight nurse may be very health, able to swim in current for an hour at a time and walk all over Paris on vacation. A thin nurse may be very unhealthy -- a smoker, have eating disorders and unable to walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing. Yet this "no fat nurses" thing comes up again and again.

    Fat shaming is offensive, whether you're doing it from a place of "fat is ugly" or if you're claiming to do it out of concern for the person's health. Do you think for one moment that the overweight person has somehow failed to notice that they are overweight? Patients can be educated about the correlation between obesity and some health conditions, but the nurse KNOWS these things.

    As far as a patient who doesn't want to receive health information from a fat nurse; I guess that's their choice. An ignorant choice, an offensive choice, but definitely their choice to make.
  6. by   AJJKRN
    Quote from MrChicagoRN
    Yeah, what she said. Nursing is a busy, 24/7 operation which is not conducive to good health habits.

    Maybe I should start smoking, purging, or doing coke so I can become more slender
    Easier than a damn lifestyle change I'm guessing!
  7. by   NurseGirl525
    How do they differentiate the nurses who are just the lazy, fat nurses, and those who have an underlying condition? Would everybody have to disclose their medical records to each other.

    Also, what qualifies as a condition? Is it just thyroid, or would endocrine/reproductive disorders such as PCOS count? Would I need a note from my physician?

    It sounds ridiculous doesn't it. That's how ridiculous your coworkers are. I'm sure they are all so pretty, and in their early twenties. Ask them if having babies and simply being older qualifies as a condition. Or, are they willing to monitor my diet she exercise.

    Also, what qualifies as fat? My BMI? Or just if I look overweight in my scrubs?
  8. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from AJJKRN
    Easier than a damn lifestyle change I'm guessing!
    That would usually entail a career change. People with kids and mortgages have to soldier on.
  9. by   TheCommuter
    I feel that everyone of all body habituses, including the overweight and the obese, belong in the healthcare sector.

    I am now at a normal weight for my height with a BMI of 22.5 to show for it. However, I struggled fiercely with my weight for many years and have firsthand knowledge of the uphill battles against crummy genetics and today's obesogenic environment.

    The reality is that some of us have a greater propensity for rapid weight gain than others, and the usual prescription of 'move more, eat less' does not help one bit. Complex problems cannot be solved with simple solutions...
  10. by   mmc51264
    I am overweight. Had weight loss surgery to help me get better control of my diabetes and get healthier. It has worked well for me, I am never going to be 110 pounds, but I ran a 1/2 marathon last March weighing about 180. I am 15 pounds from my goal and healthier than many "thin" nurses.
    Looks are not everything. i am 50+ years old and in better shape than many that are half my age.
    Everything is relative....
  11. by   NurseCard
    I have worked with MANY overweight workers and I swear this has never been a "thing". Then again I am in KY, one of THE unhealthiest states in the union, so people are just so used to it I guess.

    I have thought about this, as I am rather overweight. I have done a lot of patient education and have often though, are they really listening to me? Because I am overweight myself, are they really taking me seriously? So I have tried in the recent past to improve my health and my weight.
  12. by   NurseCard
    Quote from Ruby Vee
    There is no way to tell how healthy your nurse is just by looking at her. An overweight nurse may be very health, able to swim in current for an hour at a time and walk all over Paris on vacation. A thin nurse may be very unhealthy -- a smoker, have eating disorders and unable to walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing. Yet this "no fat nurses" thing comes up again and again.

    Fat shaming is offensive, whether you're doing it from a place of "fat is ugly" or if you're claiming to do it out of concern for the person's health. Do you think for one moment that the overweight person has somehow failed to notice that they are overweight? Patients can be educated about the correlation between obesity and some health conditions, but the nurse KNOWS these things.

    As far as a patient who doesn't want to receive health information from a fat nurse; I guess that's their choice. An ignorant choice, an offensive choice, but definitely their choice to make.
    This is actually, totally me. While I can't run anywhere without getting out of breath, I can swim all day, I can walk all day... I basically do not have anything wrong with me. I'm a lot healthier than my husband who has always been thin.
  13. by   realnursealso/LPN
    Please tell your "coworkers" I am retired now, but I worked for 34 years as an LPN, and we were busy doing our jobs. We didn't have time to discuss the weight of our coworkers. I was chubby then and I still am, so what.
  14. by   Buyer beware
    To whom it may concern,
    Overweight, obese never a good life style. While no one should brow-beat someone for their weight, it will always be crucial for those of us in health care to be credible role models. There is enough hypocrisy in this world without the nurse having to offer a disclaimer concerning their own obese status prior to teaching the obese patient before them that maybe their blood sugar would improve or their joint pain would lessen or their shortness of breath could be drastically curtailed if they lost even ten percent of their excess body weight.
    Or, we could just continue to politely avoid the obvious and through some kind of misguided attempt at not wanting to hurt feelings let the status quo prevail.
    Now I will go take my am dose of metformin and lisinopril because so many of my health care providers didn't want to rock my over laden boat. Helluva way to lose weight though.
    Last edit by Buyer beware on Aug 31, '16 : Reason: w

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