I’m Nervous about Stepping on the Scale at My Doctor’s Office. How Can I Overcome My Fear?

See these tips for talking to your healthcare provider about your weight

The dreaded weigh-in.

For many, the worst part about seeing the doctor isn’t getting blood drawn or sitting in a cold exam room. It’s stepping on the scale and being weighed. The fear and anxiety may even be enough to keep us away from the doctor’s office altogether, which unfortunately prevents us from getting necessary screenings and treatments for any potential or existing conditions.

Why We Dread the Scale

Why is it that such a specific object causes so much fear and discomfort? It’s because we’re used to attaching personal value to the number. Thanks to decades of shame and stigma about body type, size and weight, it’s easy to be sensitive to discussions around weight and their associations with the scale.

You’re also not alone if you’ve visited your doctor before, been weighed, and had your weight end up dominating the conversation with your healthcare provider. Millions of patients have reported feeling defeated and shamed during office visits.  Whether your weight has been blamed for an unrelated health condition or you’ve been lectured about your willpower or lifestyle choices, it’s understandable if you’re ready to bolt out of the room before your appointment even begins.

Why Your Weight Matters, to an Extent

That being said, there is some value to being weighed when you visit the doctor. Admittedly, getting a weight is often part of the “rooming” process at the start of your appointment. In other words, it’s been loosely adopted into the standard collection of information before your healthcare provider enters the exam room – along with a blood pressure reading, pulse and temperature.

In other circumstances, having your weight on file is extremely useful. Tracking the number can help your healthcare provider:

  • Diagnose an issue or track progress with your treatment plan
  • Determine if weight-loss or weight gain is impacting your health
  • Manage specific conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Figure out the dosage for a medication they are recommending

Tips for Overcoming Fear of the Scale

First, understand that you are not always obligated to step on the scale and provide a weight for your records. It is entirely in your right to decline a weigh-in, even if it catches your nurse or medical team off guard.

However, if you feel that your weight may be impacting your health, providing your doctor with this information is crucial. Consider these tips for making the experience of stepping on the scale at your doctor’s office a little less daunting:

  • Ask for your weight to be recorded but not announced.
  • Tell the nurse that you would rather step on the scale backwards or close your eyes.
  • If you are visiting for an issue unrelated to your weight, tell your healthcare provider directly that you would not like to discuss it at this time.
  • Practice seeing the scale as a routine reading like blood pressure, pulse or temperature.
  • Know that the scale doesn’t tell you anything about your value, intelligence or motivation.
  • If talking about weight with your current healthcare provider makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to look for a new one.

For more information about preparing for a visit with your healthcare provider, CLICK HERE for tips from the Obesity Action Coalition’s (OAC) Obesity Care Provider Locator.

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