Letter to President Obama re. Dr. Cosgrove
NAAFA, a civil right organization working for Equality at Every Size, opposes the proposed appointment of Dr. Delos ‘Toby’ Cosgrove as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Our opposition is based on Dr. Cosgrove’s openly discriminatory ideation and bias toward people based on their body size, as exhibited by his statement in an interview with a New York Times reporter. Cosgrove stated that “if it were up to him, if there weren’t legal issues, he would not only stop hiring smokers. He would also stop hiring obese people.” He then took a moralistic view, blaming people for their body size. “People’s weight is a reflection of how much they eat and how active they are.”
Our veterans deserve the absolute best possible care offered. We believe Dr. Cosgrove’s open hostility and bias against people of larger body size will bleed into the recommendations for policies and practices of the care of our veterans.
Studies have shown that the clear dislike and bias of healthcare providers toward people of larger body size leads to problems in the delivery of that much needed healthcare.
- "…although weight bias may originate in the belief that overweight individuals have weak character and could lose weight if they simply tried, the results of the current study indicate that weight bias goes beyond such stigmatization to clear dislike and negativity toward the overweight, leading to support for discrimination.” [Weight Prejudice and Medical Policy: Support for an Ambiguously Discriminatory Policy Is Influenced by Prejudice-Colored Glasses, Brochu and Esses, 2009]
- Higher patient BMI was associated with lower physician respect. [Physician Respect for Patients with Obesity, Huizinga, et al., 2009]
- Research shows that providers spend less time during appointments and provide less health education with obese patients compared with thinner patients. Obese patients frequently report experiences of weight bias in healthcare, and being disrespected by providers. [The stigma of obesity: a review and update., Puhl and Heuer, 2009]
- Research from 2013 demonstrates that, in addition to poorer mental health outcomes, weight discrimination has implications for obesity. Rather than motivating individuals to lose weight, weight discrimination increases risk for obesity." [Perceived Weight Discrimination and Obesity, Sutin and Terracciano, 2013]
After having served our country, being exposed to chemicals that result in long term health problems, loss of limb(s), physical as well as mental trauma and so much more, our nation’s veterans deserve the best possible healthcare as they age. People typically gain weight as they age increasing the possibility of experiencing bias and discrimination from their healthcare providers.
Physician bias leads to avoidance of seeing a physician when attention is needed and can result in adverse effects and greater numbers of hospitalizations.
We ask that Dr. Cosgrove’s name be withdrawn from consideration as Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the good of those that have selflessly and heroically served our country. We ask that all future potential candidates be vetted for their attitudes toward higher weight people before being seriously considered for appointment.
Your consideration in this matter is gratefully appreciated.
The NAAFA Board of Directors