Fat medicos hesitate to diagnose obesity

Washington: Is your doctor fatter than you? Then, you are less likely to get a proper diagnosis of your obesity, researchers say. A new study, published in the journal Obesity, found that overweight and obese physicians who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or more were less effective at tackling obesity as they appear reluctant to discuss the topic with patients.

However, doctors with normal body mass indexes (BMIs) talk to obese patients about weight more often, and are more likely to diagnose patients as obese, found the study.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University analysed 500 primary care physicians for their study and found that those with normal BMI talked to obese patients about losing weight 30 per cent of the time, whereas overweight and obese physicians engaged in the discussion 18 per cent of the time.

Physicians with normal BMIs believed that overweight patients would be more likely to trust weight-loss advice if their doctor was not overweight, the researchers found.

"Physicians with normal BMI also have greater confidence in their ability to provide diet and exercise counselling and perceive their weight loss advice as trustworthy when compared to overweight or obese physicians," study lead author Sara Bleich was quoted as saying by Discovery News.
As for diagnosis, doctors who perceived the patient`s BMI to be the same or greater than their own diagnosed obesity 93 percent of the time, the researchers found. Past studies have also shown that two-thirds of obese patients do not receive an official diagnosis of obesity or weight-related advice.