Physician Overweight/Obesity Impacts Obesity Care

Survey shows overweight physicians less likely to counsel obesity patients on weight-loss issues

TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Being overweight/obese has a significant impact on a physician's provision of obesity care, according to a study published online Jan. 19 in Obesity.

Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and associates conducted a national cross-sectional survey of 500 primary care physicians to determine whether physician body mass index (BMI) impacts obesity care, self-efficacy, and perceptions of patient trust in their advice.

The researchers found that physicians with normal BMI were significantly more likely to discuss weight loss (30 versus 18 percent) and to give diet (53 versus 37 percent) and exercise advice (56 versus 38 percent) than overweight/obese physicians. Significantly more physicians with a normal BMI believed that patients would be less inclined to trust weight-loss advice from overweight/obese doctors (80 versus 69 percent). Physicians with normal BMI were also significantly more inclined to believe that physicians should maintain a healthy weight (72 versus 56 percent) and exercise regularly (73 versus 57 percent) than overweight/obese physicians. When physicians' perceptions of patients' body weight met or exceeded their own body weight, they were significantly more likely to record an obesity diagnosis (93 versus 7 percent) or initiate a weight-loss conversation (89 versus 11 percent).

"This study suggests physician BMI impacts obesity care," the authors write. "Normal BMI physicians are more likely to provide obesity care to their patients and feel confident doing so."

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