Doctor's BMI influences weight-loss discussion with overweight patients

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 6, 2012

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Physicians with a healthy body mass index level are more likely to talk to overweight patients about shedding pounds than doctors who are overweight or obese, according to a study in the Jan. 19 issue of Obesity.

Researchers surveyed 498 primary care physicians between Feb. 9 and March 1, 2011, on when they initiate weight-loss discussions with patients. They found that 47% of doctors had a normal BMI, which the study defined as less than 25 kg/m2. The remaining doctors were overweight or obese (link).

Thirty percent of physicians with normal BMIs said they have weight-loss discussions with patients whose BMI is 35 kg/m2 or higher, which is considered obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eighteen percent of overweight or obese doctors had such conversations.

About half of doctors at a healthy weight were confident in their ability to provide diet counseling to obese patients, compared with 37% of physicians with an elevated BMI. Among the study's limitations is that researchers relied on physician self-reporting of weight, which probably led to an underestimate of overweight and obese doctors.

The study authors suggest increasing obesity-related training in medical school to help all physicians improve care for overweight and obese patients.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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