Last September, I got on a plane (remember planes!) and flew down to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to visit Mosaic Comprehensive Care, an internal medicine practice run by Louise Metz, MD. Dr. Metz is white, thin, and was educated at elite schools. But she’s one of the most radical doctors working in America today. The Mosaic Center provides gender-neutral, weight-inclusive care — and is one of only a handful of medical practices in the country that does not routinely weigh patients.
Instead, I watched Dr. Metz and her colleagues treat patients for diabetes, acid reflux, joint issues, and high blood pressure without ever once discussing their body size or suggesting they make it smaller. As a result, she’s able to treat the issues that a weight-focused doctor can miss: The restrictive eating disorder that fueled the weight loss they want to celebrate. The depression, insomnia and chronic stress driving up blood pressure. Doctors need to see beyond the scale, Metz argues, and consider their whole patient.
For my new feature in the July issue of Scientific American, I explore Metz’s approach, as well as the larger question of what might happen if the medical and scientific communities let go of the number on the scale. I hope you’ll read it here. And I also hope you’ll read its companion piece, by Lindo Bacon and Sabrina Strings on the racist roots of fighting obesity. My piece answers all of your “but what about health?” questions. But their work shows that our cultural belief that thin equals health is rooted in fear and hatred of black bodies. Challenging those beliefs—and separating weight from medicine—is critical to anti-racism work. And it’s going to be a lot better for our health too.
PS. If you want to opt out of weigh-ins at your doctor’s office, and start a conversation about weight-inclusive care, Dr. Metz has a great letter you can use. And here’s one for your pediatrician, too.