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Obese Doctors Not Concerned With Patients Weight Loss

By Kai Wade - Director of Communications & Social Media | March 5th, 2012

When you experience a personal loss, chances are good that you may turn to someone who has experienced a similar loss.

Can you apply this formula to medical care?

When you need to lose weight, chances aren’t as promising if your doctor is overweight. Similarly, dentists with unattractive teeth aren’t conveying much assurance for suitable oral care.

In a study of 500 primary care physicians around the country, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine concluded that a doctor’s own weight swayed how he or she was concerned for a patients weight issues.

The physicians answered a 49 question survey to expose how they documented an obesity diagnosis, introduced weight-loss consultations, assessed self-efficacy for providing counseling, and recommended medication when specified.

The study further indicated the variance on demonstrating healthy behaviors and whether physicians channeled that a patient’s confidence level was less protected if given advice by an overweight or obese doctor.

The study concluded that overweight or obese physicians were less probable to discourse weight loss with heavier patients. Only 18% of obese doctors conferred losing weight with their patients whereas 30% of healthy weight physicians did.

Scientists alarmingly found that 93% of doctors diagnosed obesity in their patients only if they believed their own weight was equal to or less than that of their patients.

Analyzing the Numbers:

· 93% vs. 7% - A physician's self-impression also seems to be a factor in weight loss counseling. Doctors were more likely to record a diagnosis of obesity

· 53% vs. 37% - Physicians with normal BMI had more confidence in their ability to give advice on diet and exercise to their obese patients than their overweight or obese counterparts.

· 72% vs. 56% - Doctors who reported having normal BMI were more likely than their overweight or obese colleagues to believe that physicians should be role models to their patients by keeping to a healthy weight.

Lead author, Dr. Sara Bleich, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, advocated that the results found normal weight physicians to "have greater confidence in their ability to provide diet and exercise counseling and perceive their weight loss advice as trustworthy when compared to overweight or obese physicians".

Being obese surges a person's chance of evolving many chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

“If we improve physician well-being, and improve their lifestyles toward weight loss or weight maintenance, that can go a long way toward influencing the care they provide their patients,” says Bleich.

Putting emphasis on healthy weight for physicians during medical school and in continuing education could improve the health of the general population. Ultimately the responsibility comes down to choosing a physician who defines the ultimate goal of helping you achieve a healthy weight.

To learn more about obesity and weight loss, consult a physician in your area.


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