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On Being a Doctor |

Memoirs of an Obese Physician

Joseph F. Majdan, MD
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

From Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Requests for Single Reprints: Joseph F. Majdan, MD, Jefferson Medical College, 1001 Locust Street, Suite 409B, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(10):686-687. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-153-10-201011160-00017
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Because of society's negative view of obesity, obese people continue to suffer indignities and prejudices even in this “politically correct” world. Physicians also harbor a similar prejudicial view of obese patients (1). As a medical student and now as an attending physician and as someone who has been obese for much of my life, I have had to face both simmering and overt prejudice from the profession I hold in the highest esteem.





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Society and the Medical Profession are insensitive and critical of overweight
Posted on November 29, 2010
Keith MacGaffey
Medical Director, Care Management
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

To the Editor:

I am responding to Memoirs of an Obese Physician by Dr. Joseph Majdan in the November 16 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. He is right: society and the medical profession are generally insensitive to and critical of people who are obviously overweight, and we need to work on ourselves in this regard.

I do notice however that the word exercise does not occur in his memoir. I would tend to disagree with his statement "An understanding of the causes of obesity...remains to be discovered."

Regardless of the influence of varous endocrinological, environmental and psychological factors, the basic cause of obesity remains an excess of caloric intake over caloric expenditure. Unfortunately, reversing this arithmatic proves to be an almost unsurmountable hurdle for some.

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

Double Speak
Posted on November 30, 2010
Victor O. Kolade
University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

I am grateful to Dr Majdan for writing about his experience as an obese physician (1). I confess to having had critical thoughts about obese teaching attendings, residents, and most recently medical students. I have neither given voice to these thoughts nor heard things said to colleagues like what I read in the article, but I regret maintaining a discordance between empathy for obese patients (including healthcare professionals) and disregard for physicians in connection with their physical stature. It is sad to think that physicians sometimes contend with damaging feelers from colleagues in addition to other challenges of medical practice.

More information that will point out and help limit physician and residency damage is urgently needed in this season of physician shortages.


1. Majdan JF. Memoirs of an obese physician. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(10):686-7.

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

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