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Learn more about the results we get at Within

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Blind weigh-ins and how to say "no" to being weighed

Getting weighed and having your blood pressure taken are often the first two things you do when you go to the doctor. While your blood pressure is an indicator of your health, your weight is not. And getting weighed can be distressing for many people for many reasons. But did you know that you can actually say no when a healthcare provider asks you to step on the scale? In this article, we discuss how to say no to weigh-ins at the doctor, as well as other options such as receiving a blind weigh-in (also referred to as a closed weigh-in). Practicing how to say no can help you avoid being distressed or triggered by the numbers on the scale.

6
 minutes read
Last updated on 
February 5, 2024
Blind weigh-in
In this article

Why you might want to decline being weighed

Research indicates that many people are less likely to go to the doctor because of their discomfort related to being weighed.1 This can be a significant barrier to receiving timely, high-quality medical care.

However, you don’t have to consent to step on the scale if you don’t want to—it’s your choice. And people may have different reasons for declining to be weighed.

It's not always necessary to be weighed when you visit your doctor's office.

Weight stigma in medical settings

Approximately 40% of medical providers have admitted to holding negative attitudes about people living in higher-weight bodies, known as weight stigma, weight bias, or weight discrimination.2

Meanwhile, over half of women living in larger bodies report receiving inappropriate weight-related comments from medical providers. The same percentage of women say that their weight is a barrier to receiving quality and inclusive healthcare.2

Print this closed weighing card and show it to your healthcare provider.

Weight stigma can have harmful consequences on your mental and physical health, including:3,4,5

Consequently, despite their good intentions, many medical professionals end up making their patients feel worse about themselves, which can deter future medical care.

If you have previously experienced weight stigma in healthcare settings, you may want to consider declining to get weighed at the doctor’s office, which may reduce the chance the nurse or doctor will bring up the number on the scale. Your explanation for saying no to getting weighed may also indicate to your healthcare provider that you don’t want to talk about weight.

Weighing in

Rejecting the myth that weight is a predictor of health

For so long, our society has perpetuated the myth that weight is an accurate predictor of well-being and health. Health is complex, consisting of many biological, sociological, and psychological influences, and it can’t be reduced to weight or body size. Plus, people can be healthy at all weights, sizes, and shapes, and thin bodies aren’t necessarily healthy.

"While weighing may be necessary for medical interventions, there are potential risks. We encourage those in recovery to question the necessity, and decline unless being wieghed has clinical utility. When being weighed it is also your right to insist on being weighed in such a way that you will not see or hear the number."

- Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt

If you are working to challenge this myth and the influence it has on your happiness, then you may want to opt out of being weighed at the doctor’s office. Know your worth, and protect your mental health. If it’s really medically necessary to weigh you, ask that your medical provider explain why.

Scales are a trigger for disordered eating

If you are in recovery from an eating disorder or have a history of disordered eating behaviors, stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office could be a trigger for all types of harmful behaviors and experiences, such as:

  • Negative self-talk and criticism
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Shame
  • Unhealthy weight-loss strategies, such as dieting, fasting, purging, and over-exercising

If you know that seeing the numbers on the scale could be triggering for you, do what’s best for you and your recovery and decline being weighed. Whether you simply say no or explain why you want to avoid the scale, your healthcare provider must respect your wishes.

Strategies to decline being weighed at the doctor’s office

Lately, your throat has been hurting, you’ve had a bad sinus headache and your nose won’t stop running. You haven’t been able to kick it with over-the-counter medication, so you decide to go to the doctor. You suspect it might be a sinus infection and that you need a round of antibiotics. When you arrive, they ask you to step on the scale. However, you feel hesitant and don’t want to be weighed today. And the thing is, in most cases, you don’t have to. You are free to decline being weighed, although if you have never done this before, it may be difficult for you to find the words to advocate for yourself.

Here are some things you can say in order to decline being weighed at the doctor:
  • Simply say "no" without explanation—they must honor your needs
  • "I don’t want to be weighed unless it’s medically necessary. Please explain to me why this is medically necessary so I can provide informed consent."
  • "I decline being weighed today."
  • "Being weighed makes me uncomfortable so I am going to decline."
  • "No thank you, I don’t want to be weighed today."

It can be stressful to advocate for yourself out loud, which is why it may be helpful to carry a “blind weigh” or "closed weigh" card with you that you can hand to the medical staff. This card may have more lengthy explanations as to why you are declining to be weighed, such as:

  • Weighing me every time I come to the doctor and focusing on my weight contributes to weight stigma and weight bias.
  • I believe in health at every size and engage in healthy behaviors regardless of my weight.
  • When medical professionals focus on my weight, I get triggered and stressed out.
  • Most medical conditions and concerns can be treated without knowing my weight.
  • I reject diet culture and the notion that a number on a scale can predict my health.
Download our printable closed weigh-in card and bring it to the doctor's office
Download >

Medical conditions in which it’s medically necessary to weigh you

Sometimes a patient's weight may be medically necessary, such as when you are undergoing treatment for congestive heart failure or kidney failure since you can experience significant fluid retention, which indicates the worsening of your condition. In these situations, doctors must track your exact weight in order to adjust your treatments or medications.6

Other situations in which you may need to be weighed include:

  • Before an operation to determine appropriate anesthesia dosing
  • Dosing for other medications
  • Certain stages of eating disorder recovery

When it is medically necessary to be weighed, you can still find ways to reduce your stress through closed weighing, such as by stepping on the scale backward so you can’t see your weight. Express to the nurse or doctor that you don’t want to know your weight so that they avoid saying it out loud or writing it where you might see it.

Let your doctor know you're currently in recovery from an eating disorder and would not like to see your weight.

At the end of the day, your mental and emotional health is more important than a number on the scale. Do what’s right for you and advocate for your right to deprioritize weight.

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. Lee, J. A., & Pausé, C. J. (2016). Stigma in Practice: Barriers to Health for Fat Women. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 2063.
  2. Fruh, S. M., Nadglowski, J., Hall, H. R., Davis, S. L., Crook, E. D., & Zlomke, K. (2016). Obesity Stigma and Bias. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners: JNP, 12(7), 425–432.
  3. Weight bias in health care. (2010). AMA Journal of Ethics, 12(4), 287–291.
  4. Weight stigma. (2019, June 27). National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  5. Puhl, R. M., & Heuer, C. A. (2010). Obesity stigma: important considerations for public health. American Journal of Public Health, 100(6), 1019–1028.
  6. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. (2006). Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Chronic kidney disease: How effective are diet and exercise?

FAQs

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