Medical School Teaching New Doctors That Being Obese is A-OK 

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The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has a syllabus full of critical race theory teachings, all rolled into one neat little course called “Structural Racism and Health Equity.” The course will require students to take classes like “Anti-Settler Colonialism/Indigenous Health,” “The Sickness of Policing & Incarceration,” and “Environmental Racism & Justice,” per a copy of the syllabus obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. 

Other noteworthy topics to be covered in the course include investigating the “myth” of the border crisis and using medicine to “dismantle racism.” In 2020, the “Structural Racism and Health Equity” course was introduced as part of the school’s curriculum shift towards anti-racism following the death of George Floyd. 

Medical universities nationwide have made it mandatory to study racism in medicine. Critical Race Theory (CRT) holds significant relevance in medical education by reframing the concept of race from a biological variable to a social construct deeply intertwined with systemic racism. By incorporating CRT, medical schools claim to broaden future physicians’ perspectives by encouraging them to examine how medical practices allegedly perpetuate racial inequalities and contribute to health disparities. Supporters of the curriculum say this approach fosters a better understanding of systemic injustice and that the courses equip doctors to advocate for equitable care for all patients. 

While critical-race style teachings are now commonplace in medical school, teaching doctors-in-training the basics remained standard practice. Smoking is terrible, processed sugar and other poor dietary choices can lead to type two diabetes, and obesity is not healthy. 

Until now.  

One segment of UCLA’s “Structural Racism and Health Equity” course is “Disability Justice.” It incorporates a piece of material titled “No Health, No Care: The Big Fat Loophole in the Hippocratic Oath,” an essay written by Marquisele Mercedes. In the essay, Mercedes says that weight loss is useless and efforts to lose weight are “hopeless.” Mercedes claims that repeatedly gaining and losing weight can pose various health risks. The essay also says the connection between weight and overall health is “muddy.” 

The essay goes on to paint the idea of someone being obese as a “slur” and claims the “concept of obesity is used to exact violence on fat people.” 

UCLA’s “Disability Justice” centers around this essay, an “exploration” of how weight has been “medicalized in racial terms.” The class provides recommendations to healthcare providers and researchers on “combating discrimination against fat individuals.” Medical students are instructed to reflect on how Mercedes’ “insights” align with their experiences in learning about weight in medicine. 

It’s not the first time progressives have tried to excuse obesity as racist. As recently as 2023, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity medicine specialist at Mass General Health in Boston, argued that diet and exercise have minimal impact on obesity. Instead, she emphasizes that genetics is the primary factor behind obesity. Stanford is now part of the Biden administration’s 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, tasked with shaping dietary recommendations for Americans in the years ahead. In addition to pushing the narrative that obesity cannot be helped, the committee will delve deeply into the roles that racism and socioeconomic status play in the obesity epidemic.  

In recent years, there has been an increase in obesity rates, as reported by the CDC, which noted a rise from 30.5% in 2017 to 41.9% in 2020 among Americans. More alarming data from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that in 2010, 43 million preschool-aged children worldwide were obese, with numbers steadily increasing since the 1990s. Without intervention, it is projected that over 1 billion adults will be obese by 2030. 

UCLA is no stranger to controversial classes for its medical students. Earlier this month, the UCLA Jewish Faculty Resilience Group reported that a guest speaker instructed students to touch the floor during a lecture, referring to it as “mama earth.” The speaker then asked students to stand for another prayer to “mama earth” and “ancestors,” prompting discomfort among some students who chose to remain seated. 

In January, the school faced criticism and canceled a class exercise that categorized students by race following a civil rights complaint about the topic. The exercise asked students to identify the racial group they felt most represented them in clinical settings. 

Attempts to normalize obesity starkly contrast the realities these future doctors will face in the clinical setting. It will be fascinating to see how these physicians balance discussions about the risk of obesity while also telling patients it’s not essential to lose weight because, overall, it’s useless to try.  

According to UCLA, it’s more important to indulge obese patients than it is to intervene, hurt their feelings, and save their lives.