New diversity standards on treating overweight patients in the works

The Association of American Medical Colleges is planning to roll out new standards aimed at teaching physicians how to treat patients who are overweight in an equitable manner, reported NBC News May 21. 

Previous research has shown that phyisans are less likely to show respect to overweight patients, usually classified as having a body mass index of over 30, even as 73 percent of Americans fall under the overweight or obese category.

"This is almost like malpractice. You have these physicians or clinicians — whoever they are — relating everything to the patient's obesity without investigation," said Scott Butsch, MD, director of obesity medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "The stereotypes and misperceptions around this disease just bleed into clinical practice."

To overcome this, the AAMC is set to release a new set of competency standards for medical students, residents and physicians that include issues related to culturally competent care and how to care for those who are overweight. It has also developed the PREview exam for those who are applying to medical school as a way to measure cultural competency, listening skills and empathy.

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