Physicians with normal BMI more likely to diagnose, discuss obesity

Color me “stunned” by this report: The Baltimore Sun “Picture of Health” blog reports a study in the journal Obesity suggesting that “physicians with a normal body mass index were more likely than overweight doctors to engage their obese patients in weight loss discussions.”

The Sun goes on to say, “Normal weight doctors were also more likely to diagnose a patient as obese if they perceived the patient’s BMI was equal to or larger than their own.”

The work was funded by in part by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports, “In one of the most stunning figures in the paper … the probability that a normal-weight doctor actually recording an obesity diagnosis for an obese patient was 93%.”

For overweight or obese doctors, it was just 7%.

Interestingly, the gap seemed to narrow a bit when physicians were asked whether they thought patients would be less likely to trust weight loss advice from overweight or obese doctors.

An overwhelming 80% of normal-BMI doctors agreed, but so did a very respectable 69% of overweight and obese doctors.

One thought on “Physicians with normal BMI more likely to diagnose, discuss obesity

  • Cathy Hoelzer

    I’m a “normal weight” physician assistant that always recorded whether my patient was overweight or obese. I feel it is essential to discuss healthy weight loss, the importance of good diets, and even referred many to dieticians to help get them started. This, I believe, is critical to good health care.

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