Does it Matter if Your Doc is Overweight?

Topics: Obesity and Weight Loss

Trim docs do seem to have an edge with patients (4 studies below): role modeling has value.

“Healthy and fit pediatricians more routinely provided recommended care on child diet and physical activity and assessed TV time” than pediatricians who were neither healthy nor fit.

“Clinicians who watched their own diets vigorously were more likely to calculate BMI for obese patients than other clinicians (42% vs. 13%).” Calculating BMI is a powerful tool.

Patients seeking health advice and treatment from nonobese physicians were more confident in their advice than patients seeing obese physicians.

Relatedly, doctors who exercise are more likely to counsel their own patients to exercise. Counsel from doctors is some of the most powerful medicine.

There are many reasons docs are overweight: lack of sleep, inconvenient meals, unstructured treatment, crazy food environments. Our own preliminary studies have shown that doctors are more likely to recommend Rx drugs for weight loss to patients but take OTC weight loss drugs themselves.

But physicians should not cede leadership on fitness or obesity to the media or to politicians. We can do better ourselves with small, simple changes in what we eat and in our environments. Not easy, I know, from experience. But possible.

Visiting our own physician for help; learning how to cook; and setting up the right cues in the office, car, home and hospital so they are healthful are do-able first steps. One at a time.