For better or worse, the internet has given people the ability to research their own medical questions outside of their doctor’s office. Instead of taking everything the doctor says as gospel, we can now double check their advice online.
Yes, I know this isn’t always helpful and can lead patients to thinking they know more than doctors, but it can be good because it helps us question the narrative. It lets us start asking “why” to long-time assumed rules — like stepping on the scale each time you go to the doctor.
Weight is not always a helpful tool for kids
In 2016 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) officially changed their recommendation; they no longer suggest doctors take their child and teen patients’ weight at appointments. The purpose of this change is to prevent obesity and eating disorders in adolescents.
Now, the AAP recommends doctors focus on helping their young patients cultivate healthy behaviors like eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly, instead of achieving a specific number on a scale.
They also say doctors should use a “motivational interviewing” technique that focuses on a goal-oriented and collaborative style of communication.
But, doctors are still weighing kids at their appointments.
Weight is not always an accurate or helpful assessment of someone’s health. This is especially true for adolescents who don’t understand the bigger picture of how your health is SO much more than your weight.
It’s how you feel about yourself, your energy levels, your ability to do what you want with your life, and so much more.
Enter the trendy new “Don’t Weigh Me” cards
People are now flocking to buy cards that read: “Please don’t weigh me unless it’s (really) medically necessary. If you really need my weight, please tell me so I can give my informed consent.”
Ginny Jones, creator of these cards and founder of More-Love.org, said she made the cards after she recovered from an eating disorder and discovered you don’t need to be weighed at every doctor’s visit.
“I created the cards to provide something useful to the eating disorder recovery community, and they took off,” said Ginny during an interview.
“Because we live in a fatphobic society, being weighed and talking about weight causes feelings of stress and shame for many people. Many people feel anxious about seeing the doctor, and will avoid going to the doctor in order to avoid the scale.”
The purpose of these “Don’t Weigh Me” cards is for a patient to experience healthcare free of weight bias. Instead of being weighed automatically, it can be an informed choice with the patient’s consent.
“Our “Don’t Weigh Me” cards are a polite and respectful way to assert your preference at the doctor’s office and seek informed consent if weight is deemed necessary for care and treatment. You can keep them in your wallet or pocket to remind yourself that it’s OK to not automatically step on the scale when asked.”
You can order these cards at more-love.org for only $5. Get them for yourself, a friend, or even your kids. They make a special card for parents that says “Don’t talk about my child’s weight.” If you know a doctor or work in a medical office, you can order them on the website too.
You have the right to make your own decisions
It’s 2022 and we are not done progressing; especially in the medical field. Hopefully, we will never be done making medical breakthroughs and improving our healthcare system.
This includes how we assess our health and how we treat patients. The scale is not the only (or best) way to determine someone’s health.
I have two young kids, and I am already hyper aware of the potential body image issues they are facing especially around weight. It’s never too early to start thinking about how to talk to your kids about health and body image.
Remember: you can always decline a weight check or any other medical assessment. Medical professionals cannot take any information from you about your body or life without your consent; you can always, always, always say no. These cards just make it a little easier to do so.