A new website launched by three Winnipeg women is asking health-care providers to take a pledge to treat all patients the same, regardless of their shape or size.
"One thing that we hear over and over again is people who experience weight stigma in larger bodies don't go to the doctor as much," said Amy Tuckett-McGimpsey. She helped found Good Fat Care along with Winnipeggers Lori Peters and Lisa Naylor.
"If they know that they can go somewhere where they can access these health-care practitioners in a non-stigmatizing way, that'll be better for their health as well," she said.
The website launched two weeks ago. In its first phase, Tuckett-McGimpsey said she and her co-founders are hoping to find health-care providers who are ready to take a pledge committing to treat patients with inclusivity, respect and compassion, instead of focusing on the patient's weight.
The site is set to enter its second phase later this year: connecting those providers with patients who need their services.
"Basically, weight stigma is harmful to people's health," said Peters.
She has spent close to 15 years working in mental health, focusing on treating eating disorders. Peters says weight discrimination is prevalent in the health-care system.
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"A lot of my clients over the years have been told or given the message that their bodies aren't OK in the size and shape they are and they started to engage in certain behaviours to try to alter that, and ultimately that lead to some disordered eating behaviours," she said.
Peters said she hopes the website will move health-care providers to the "health at every size" model, dropping assumptions about health based on size and helping patients become healthier holistically.
"At the end of the day, we're all wanting to help people improve their health and well-being to the degree that they want to," she said.
"That's what we are in health care, right?"