Refusing to be Weighed

I’ve decided that, as a political statement and a measure of self-protection, I will refuse to be weighed from now on.

Entirely. Completely.

As a show of solidarity, my thinnish husband said that he won’t let himself be weighed, either.

Political, in that:
* health information may become potentially much less private with the advent of electronic health records. I don’t want numbers that could be used to label me as some kind of social deviant, subject to higher taxes/fees/etc.

Self-protective, in that:
* I don’t want doctors to immediately see my weight/BMI first, and treat my condition second.

If doctors/nurses have a problem with this, I will calmly explain that I will not be weighed, and repeat whatever reason I came in for.

If health insurance companies ask for my weight, I will give them a safe number that won’t put me in any bad categories. It’s not a lie, I haven’t weighed myself in years. So I’m just giving them my best guess and, gosh, I’m bad at estimation!

If employers/employees require numbers for health initiatives, I will tell them no. If they insist, I will tell them they can try to drag me on a scale, if they like.

I know it’s radical — that’s the point. There really is very, very little reason to be weighed, and those numbers are being increasingly used to categorize us into “compliant” and “noncompliant”/”deviant” classes. But if we don’t let them assign a number — well, how are they going to categorize us? They can’t just field a guess.

What do you think? Will you refuse to be weighed? If not, why not?

EDIT: Based on a few comments, here is a brief note — I think the point is being missed, here, a bit. The idea is to ultimately keep a number that has potentially harmful social consequences from being recorded. It doesn’t matter if my doctor isn’t a government employee (especially if the pending healthcare legislation passes), acquiring that number is a simple matter of changing the law, or plundering electronic databases. The idea is to keep that number from being recorded because I do *not* trust my doctor to use that information wisely. I do *not* trust any body in our current fatphobic climate to use that number wisely. There might be some who are looking just to track stability and long term trends (and besides a sharp jump or drop in weight, what are those supposed to tell me about my health, anyway?) and not carp on BMI-bullshit myths, but that’s not something I’m going to trust. And I do not trust that my information is going to remain private. It might. But it could just as easily be shoved into a database that some bureaucracy would be able to dredge at will.

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14 comments on “Refusing to be Weighed

  1. trabbsboy says:

    I do love this idea. I can’t participate, though. For ten years I put up with doctor from hell because it’s so hard to find a new doctor where I live, and now that I have a good one, I won’t do anything that might jeopardize it. Also, since I live in the awesome country of Canada, nobody else cares. Good luck with it, though. And I hope you get a lot of people on board.

  2. bigliberty says:

    @trabbsboy, I completely understand. In fact, this is probably something only a relatively few people could do, for various reasons — I think those who can should really consider it.

    I think I’m a point where I can be reasonably sure I wouldn’t lose my job, lose my doctor (or care if I do … I don’t particularly like my doctor), or be brought to task by an insurance company.

    I think it’s really important, however, that no matter what you do, try not to allow your records to be digitalized. Even though there might be only a small chance that the information could be abused and then used against you, the state of public health finger-pointing fatphobia being what it is, a little bit of over-caution could save us from grief in the long run. At least until this historical period of moralizing health has passed….

  3. richie79 says:

    Whilst I know the number (I needed it for the suit rental for my recent wedding), I haven’t allowed myself to *be* weighed in years. If there’s weighing to be done, I want to be the one who decides where, when, how and what is done with the results, especially in a country obsessed with databases and registers and where the powers-that-be are already showing the will to use them against us. So I suppose my primary motive, too, is self-protection. I’m registered with a local GP, but in recent months, when I’ve had something that requires a prescription (namely a couple of chest infections that just wouldn’t shift without antibiotics) I’ve visited the no appointment, walk-in clinic in the city centre where the onus is on thorough but swift consultations and where you’re therefore much more likely to get treatment for the condition you’ve presented than a load of shame about that stupid number.

  4. living400lbs says:

    I’ve somewhat fallen into this — the scale at my ARNP’s office is a standard doctor’s scale that goes up to 350lbs. Initially I shook my head and was going to explain it was too small but the assistant just said, “OK” and moved onto the next step of their intake. Oops!

  5. Frances says:

    I don’t mind being weighed. I haven’t been obsessed with my weight for a long time and the number on the scale doesn’t affect me that much anymore.

    I like owning what I weigh. A lot of people are bad at visualising what a certain weight, or a certain BMI category, looks like. I put a face to “100kg” (actually, I’m a few kilos shy of triple digits) and to the obesity epidemic.

    Also, I think owning what I weigh takes the power out of the number. I weight 95kg. I admit to it freely. The only thing it defines is my mass. No big deal.

    (I recognise that this may be easier for me because I’m more of an ‘in-betweenie’, for lack of a better phrase.)

  6. deannacorbeil says:

    I have some mixed feelings about this. Unfortunately, I am intimately familiar with the dreaded “weigh-in” at doctor’s appointments, and the subsequent lectures and scoldings. If the only purpose for weighing is to determine if a patient “needs” weight loss, then I’m all for refusing to step on the scale.

    However, weights can be a very useful piece of information in determining if a patient might have an illness or exacerbation of existing problems. As an RN, I always weigh my patients with congestive heart failure when I visit them at home. If they’ve gained 5 pounds in 3 days, then we might just have a problem, since a sudden weight gain like this might indicate an exacerbation of CHF. In fact, in might be the only initial symptom. This is a potentially dangerous condition. However, if it’s treated quickly, hospitalization can often be avoided.

    There are other conditions that might be picked up upon because of weight changes. For example, unintended weight loss could be an indicator of some cancers or even diabetes. Some medication dosages are determined using weights.

    What might be a good thing to do is to ask your health care provider what they intend to do with the information. Are they looking to tell me that my BMI is unhealthy and to diet immediately? Or are they looking for weight stability and long-term trends in the context of other health information? The latter is a good reason to step up on the scale; the former—not so much.

  7. La di Da says:

    I’ll let medical staff weigh me under certain conditions only. If they “just want to know”, then no, they can’t weigh me. If I’m having anaesthesia or some medication that’s weight-based dosing, then yes they can weigh me, though if they try to make that needed measurement into a lecture, I won’t discuss it further.

  8. doomgloom says:

    I don’t think that refusing to be weighed will keep you out of any bad categories, as far as health insurers are concerned. Health insurers interpret lack of information as entirely negative. The same is true of fascist government, such as Obama’s proposed medical rationing board. Instead, I would advise all the non-obese people to show solidarity by wearing the heaviest clothes you can find, and eating a big meal before going to the doctor. Let’s freak them out with the greatest “obesity epidemic” in world history!

  9. bigliberty says:

    doomgloom,

    How can you legally be put into a “bad” health insurance category with either no information to back it up, or information that would necessarily put you in a “safe” category?

    The idea is to take weight out of the equation entirely. If they want to wave their hands and guess, they can take the risk that they’re wrong and their patient might sue because they were put into a category in which they don’t belong — frankly, I think most institutions are so scared of getting sued, they wouldn’t dream about fabricating numbers or putting you into an insurance category in which you might not belong. You won’t get into the “healthy incentives” program that requires a low weight, but you can’t be put into some specifically penalty-laden program because of a high weight.

    Again, this sort of thing isn’t for anyone. If you’re particularly nervous about losing coverage, or having employment problems, or losing care because you refuse to be weighed, then this method of approach isn’t for you.

  10. Frances says:

    doomgloom does actually raise a good point – insurance companies (whether health, car, home…) start from a high premium point and lower rates based on information given to them. It is possible that through an ommitting your weight, the insurance company will assume that you are in a ‘bad’ category (as they could lose out financially if they assume you are in a ‘good’ category and it turns out otherwise).

  11. curiousbuthonest says:

    …”I’ve decided that, as a political statement and a measure of self-protection, I will refuse to be weighed from now on. ..”

    Your doctor is not a government employee. Trust your doctor to treat you. I agree with Deanna..”..What might be a good thing to do is to ask your health care provider what they intend to do with the information. Are they looking to tell me that my BMI is unhealthy and to diet immediately? Or are they looking for weight stability and long-term trends in the context of other health information?”..

    I admire your idea, but it might work against you if you eventually

    • bigliberty says:

      I think the point is being missed, here, a bit. The idea is to ultimately keep a number that has potentially harmful social consequences from being recorded. It doesn’t matter if my doctor isn’t a government employee (especially if the pending healthcare legislation passes), acquiring that number is a simple matter of changing the law, or plundering electronic databases. The idea is to keep that number from being recorded because I do *not* trust my doctor to use that information wisely. I do *not* trust any body in our current fatphobic climate to use that number wisely. There might be some who are looking just to track stability and long term trends (and besides a sharp jump or drop in weight, what are those supposed to tell me about my health, anyway?) and not carp on BMI-bullshit myths, but that’s not something I’m going to trust. And I do not trust that my information is going to remain private. It might. But it could just as easily be shoved into a database that some bureaucracy would be able to dredge at will.

  12. […] would best determine whether or not he fell into some socially-shunned BMI category (which is why not allowing yourself to be labeled by such numbers is so important). Christie gave his height, but when Imus […]

  13. doomgloom says:

    If President Obama has his way, refusing to be weighed will be treated as “bad behavior”, and health care will be denied, or even replaced with involuntary euthanasia, exactly as it would under the Nazi regime. At present, however, it is conceivable that a health insurance company or health care provider could be sued successfully for denying care or discriminating against someone whose weight is unknown, yet not sued successfully if the plaintiff’s weight were known. However, I prefer to put my faith in the power of political organizing by ridiculing tyrants rather than in the power of lawyers. Chris Christie seems to agree.

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