Overweight Doctors Dispensing Weight Loss Advice

Overweight Doctors Dispensing Weight Loss Advice

Curious researchers at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently asked the question, "Is there a direct correlation between clinical weight loss patients and the Body Mass Index of the supervising physician?" Their findings were published in the Obesity journal and subsequently supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Health and Resources and Services Administration.

The study involved following and observing 500 physicians with close attention given to how they diagnosed their patients. To begin, the researchers requested the Body Mass Index of the participating physicians to establish whether or not they would qualify as obese. If the physician reported a BMI below 25 kg/m2 they were entered into the "normal" weight category. Those who reported a BMI at or above 25 kg/m2 were determined to be overweight.

What the researchers found was that the overweight doctors were less likely to diagnose obesity than the normal weight doctors.

Further, the normal weight doctors were likelier to recommend weight loss to obese patients. There was also a variance in what the two types of physicians would prescribe to patients who were determined to be in need of weight loss.

Consider the following excerpt from Time Healthland. "In the study, when overweight or obese doctors did address obesity, they were more likely than their normal weight counterparts to prescribe anti-obesity medications (26% vs. 18%), rather than lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. That may reflect a lack of confidence in these approaches to weight loss, either because of the physicians' own personal experiences or because of their subconscious concern that such advice wouldn't appear reliable to patients coming from someone who wasn't slim."

The apparent lack of confidence or subconscious concerns these overweight doctors have towards particular lifestyle changes may lead to their patients experiencing doubt in their own abilities to lose weight. It stands to reason that the opposite would also be true. Doctors who have experienced weight loss and/or are able to fend off obesity would most likely be more confident in their ability to dispense diet and exercise advice to their overweight patients. These doctors would also be more likely to share their experiences with patients. Sharing these stories could inspire more hope and confidence in the patients who desired to lose weight.

It should be noted, in conclusion, that the overweight doctors were not altogether unsuccessful in helping their obese patients lose weight. There are plenty of cases where obese physicians had patients that were able to lose and keep off weight. However, this study indicates an overweight doctor will have to encounter certain challenges and greater odds when treating patients. Potential clinical weight loss patients should be aware of these challenges when deciding where to turn for weight loss assistance and supervision.

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