Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, reported in the journal Cancer that heavier women are less likely to get a mammogram or Pap test – two key cancer screening tools.
The findings are based on a review of more than 30 previously-published studies.
While the researchers say few studies look at the “why” behind this gap, a study published last month in the journal Appetite found that women feel more discomfort at the prospect of stepping on a scale in front of others than men do (file that under “I could have told you that!”). In a press release, Andrew B. Geier, the lead author of that study, speculated that fear of the weigh-in could prevent some women from going to the doctor.
While fear of the scale never kept me away from the doctor’s office, I will admit that I used to turn my back to the numbers when my physician’s assistant weighed me in. My reasoning? That I could gauge my weight better from how my clothes fit. While a number of women I know subscribe to this theory and shun the bathroom scale, research in fact suggests that regular weigh-ins make it easier to maintain your weight because you can monitor small fluctuations and make changes before 5 pounds become 10… or 20.