Plus-size chairs

Written by weightwatchers.com editors on 9/23/2010 9:14 AM | COMMENTS (18)

My daughter fell and cut her head over the weekend so we had to go to the ER for treatment. The hospital near us recently built a brand new emergency room and as far as emergency rooms go, it’s top-notch.

A few interesting items caught my eye:

There were double-width chairs in the waiting room and patient rooms.
And the scale they use is like a large metal platform that folds down from the wall that you step on. It must be about 2-feet-wide by 3-feet-deep.

With the level of obesity on the rise, it’s understandable to have items like these – especially in a hospital since obesity increases one’s risk of many diseases and thus, I can only assume, the number of doctors visits/hospital visits.

When I mentioned these items to a friend, she was a little bothered by them.
She feels that accommodations like wider chairs allow people to comfortably stay at unhealthy weights.

I, on the other hand, look at them as common courtesies – comforts that every person deserves. And I hardly believe that an obese person will be encouraged to stay obese just because they can now comfortably sit in a waiting room chair.

What do you think?

Leslie Fink, MS, RD

Categories: GeneralHealth


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  • Post Image funnygal79

    9/30/2010 9:00 PM
    Accepting people of all shapes, sizes, religions and health status should be something everyone strives for. After all, everyone is challenged by something. I went to college at a local university and while pregnant I had to have special accommodations because I couldn't fit in the desks. I don't feel any person deserves to feel that humiliation.


  • Post Image debbiemez

    10/26/2010 1:09 PM
    Thanks for sharing. I've seen that as well. It doesn't make me feel uncomfortable as a large person. Especially, when you are sitting in the ER for hours on end with a sick loved one.


  • Post Image krisadams (kristine)

    10/25/2010 3:56 AM
    I agree and think its great that companies are making bigger products for bigger people. My father in law, uncle in law are bigger and I always worry at get togethers about the chairs they need to sit in. They aren't planning on losing weight any time soon, so I try to make sure they are comfortable.


  • Post Image nbehring

    10/4/2010 8:37 AM
    I worked as a nurse for years with an obese (from childhood) coworker who seemed to find validation, in some perverse way, from what she called 'size-ism' to maintain her large size. Looking down on overweight people does not help them up, sometimes acceptance as a worthwhile individual is what is needed let help them accept themselves and deal with their personal demons. We've all been there and who am I to throw the first stone.


  • Post Image scmathew (sarah)

    9/29/2010 9:02 AM
    Your friend's comment about making it "comfortable" to be obese is missing the obvious point that being obese is never comfortable. I am a nurse and see health professionals discriminate against the super-obese all the time. Just because you are very large doesn't mean you deserve shame or punishment. There's nothing comfortable about it.


  • Post Image cedarwolfsinger

    9/29/2010 10:51 PM
    I had gastric bypass surgery in 2002. Pre-op, having chairs that I could really have fit into at the ER would have been wonderful. Having a scale that I could have used that would have been accurate would have been excellent. If obese people are made to feel humiliated and stupid and useless in a medical facility, which is where they might actually face the truth, and make a decision to change their lives, they will avoid those places; and they are hiding too much already. I know I was.


  • Post Image willows090 (taryn)

    9/24/2010 12:22 PM
    I can see it going both ways. on one hand, everyone deserves to feel comfortable and unashamed when they are at a doctor's office or the hospital. on the other hand, the obesity epidemic really needs to be addressed and dealt with, or else we're soon going to find ourselves sick and dying left and right from a cause that can be prevented.


  • Post Image foozy1

    9/23/2010 5:20 PM
    This article in today's New York Times is about ways that Kaiser Permanente is approaching the obesity problem in its hospitals: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/dining/22doctors.html?src=me&ref=general


  • Post Image 5violets (patricia)

    9/26/2010 12:05 PM
    It is sad that there have to be plus-sized chairs and 'cattle' scakes. However no one who is overweight doesn't already know it and chairs in an ER waiting room that are uncomfortably small won't be the reason to make a decision to lose weight. There is no reason to further embarass someone at a hospial.


  • Post Image alexandra217 (alexandra)

    9/24/2010 12:55 PM
    I think it's sad that there even have to be such things as plus-sized chairs. And I tend to agree with you're friend. While yes it's embarassing when you can't fit your rump into a chair (I've had this happen), It gives the feeling of accomodating people's poor choices and habits. While obesity deffinately shouldn't be "punished" neither should it be accomidated.


  • Post Image niess96

    9/23/2010 12:42 PM
    I think that it could really go both ways. It is a courtesy to those that are larger, and they shouldn't feel the shame of having to stand because they don't fit the seats. However, it also encourages people to not face the truth that they are getting larger. I don't think that people are specifically staying obese because ther chairs are bigger, but with so many Americans in denial about their true size, this lets them ignore it a little bit more.


  • Post Image bamacy1524

    9/23/2010 9:48 AM
    I'd have to side with your friend. . . the acceptance of obesity contributes to the increase in health care costs and more. Just last week I was in the hospital for OP surgery, my gown was "standard" but I could fit three of me in there easily. Everything is bigger these days, and not just McDonald's french fries.


  • Post Image drrickey (erica)

    9/23/2010 10:41 AM
    As someone who is obese (but not for much longer if I can help it), it's incredibly humiliating to not be able to fit into a chair or fit into places that thinner people can. I carry enough shame being obese, I don't need to feel further shame because I can't fit into a chair. My hat is off to those who offer these courtesies. I can tell you that I've never felt society accepted my obesity when I could find a chair that fit my rear!


  • Post Image lewser2 (la)

    10/9/2010 12:38 AM
    Last year I had to buy a lawn chair to take to ball games and was glad to find one with a higher weight limit. Not only is it embarrassing but dangerous to have to worry about a chair collapsing underneath you. A year later, I'm under my goal, I lost 72 lbs this year, so no, I don't believe furnishing large chairs give you an excuse to stay large, it could motivate us to lost weight.


  • Post Image foozy1

    9/23/2010 1:33 PM
    As an interior designer, I see this slightly differently. "Bariatric" furniture is a big deal in health care design. It's not a "courtesy" to have chairs that fit large people, it's necessary: the goal is to care for the sick. Sick people need to sit. They also need to be weighed; in the past they had to stand on two scales -- inefficient & inaccurate. Another issue: lifting and turning these very large patients has increased occupational injuries to staff!


  • Post Image jadlos@geneseo.edu

    10/8/2010 10:11 AM
    Interesting, I've seen those chairs and never thought about obese people. I thought they were for people who wanted to sit together to comfort each other.


  • Post Image traceypoo (tracey)

    9/23/2010 1:42 PM
    If a non-comfortable chair was all it took for people to realize they needed to lose weight it would be a no brainer. It's not that easy of an equation why a person is overweight is a lot more about the mental battle. So by that logic should we try to make very overweight people feel worse about themselves? I really don't think it will make them more aware.


  • Post Image sandywack

    9/23/2010 9:59 AM
    I personally think it is just a common courtesy. Not all people are Obese because they aren't trying hard to change their life. My last boyfriend had gastric bypass lost about 100 lbs when I met him and told me how he always had to stand in the waiting room because there were no seats for him. He was a very big man.




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