JOBOB: UCLA med school faces backlash for requiring woke, 'fatphobia' courses

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  • 04/28/2024

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is facing criticism for its medical school curriculum, which includes teachings that “fatphobia is medicine’s status quo” and suggests that weight loss is a “hopeless endeavor.”

According to an exclusive report by the Washington Free Beacon, UCLA’s medical students are required to take a mandatory course in their first year titled “Structural Racism and Health Equity,” introduced in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020.

The course syllabus, revealed in the report, includes readings on topics such as “anti-capitalist politics” and “racial capitalism,” addressing the so-called evils of “ablest heteropatriarchal capitalism” and advocating for a move away from capitalism for better health outcomes. 

One of the assigned essays for medical students is written by Marquisele Mercedes, a self-described “fat liberationist.” Mercedes argues against the medicalization of weight and claims that the term “obesity” is a slur used to perpetrate violence against fat people, particularly “black, disabled, trans, poor, fat people.”

Mercedes’ essay seeks to address how “weight came to be pathologized and medicalized in radicalized terms” and  offers guidance on “resisting entrenched fat oppression.”

Critics, including former Harvard Medical School dean Jeffrey Flier, have denounced UCLA’s curriculum as promoting political ideology over actual medical education. Flier stated that the curriculum “promotes extensive and dangerous misinformation” and that the college has “centered this required course on a socialist/Marxist ideology that is totally inappropriate.”

“This is a profoundly misguided view of obesity, a complex medical disorder with major adverse health consequences for all racial and ethnic groups,” Flier said to the Washington Beacon in response to Mercedes’ essay. “Promotion of these ignorant ideas to medical students without counterbalancing input from medical experts in the area is nothing less than pedagogical malpractice.”

The controversy comes amid a broader trend of integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lessons into college curricula, particularly in medical programs. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) introduced DEI “competencies” in 2022 to guide medical programs across the country. The competencies include that students should be taught how to identify “systems of power, privilege, and oppression,” and incorporate the  “knowledge of intersectionality” into clinical decision-making.

This piece first appeared at TPUSA.

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