Obese patients trust diet advice from overweight physicians more than normal-weight physicians

June 4, 2013

When it comes to taking diet advice from a physician—size matters. This is according to a new study led by a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who examined the impact of primary care physician BMI (body mass index) on their patients' trust and perceptions of weight-related stigma. They found that overweight and obese patients trust weight-related counseling from overweight physicians more than normal weight physicians and patients seeing an obese primary care physician were more likely to perceive weight-related stigma. The results are featured online in the June 2013 issue of Preventive Medicine.

"With respect to overall trust, our results suggest that overweight and trust their physicians, regardless of their body weight," said Sara Bleich, PhD, associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of and Management. "However, with respect to trust in weight-related advice, we found that patients more strongly trusted diet advice from overweight primary care physicians as compared to normal BMI primary care physicians. In addition, we found that patient perceptions of weight-related stigma increased with physician BMI. Patients seeing obese primary care physicians, as compared to normal BMI physicians, were significantly more likely to report feeling judged because of their weight."

Using a national cross-section survey of 600 overweight and obese patients, researchers examined overall trust and trust in weight-related counseling from their primary care physicians. Overall trust was assessed by asking, "Using any number from 0 to 10, where 0 means that you do not trust this doctor at all and 10 means that you trust this doctor completely, what number would you use to rate how much you trust this doctor?" While, trust in weight-related advice was assessed by the survey question: "How much do you trust the advice from this doctor about how to control your weight; improve your diet or increase your physical activity, a great deal; a good amount; only some or very little?" Bleich and colleagues conducted multivariate regression analyses to determine whether trust or perceived stigma differed by physician BMI.

"While weight-related stigma has been documented among health professionals for decades, as well as lower physician respect towards patients with a higher BMI, our finding that weight-related stigma increases with physician BMI was quite surprising," notes Bleich. "Recent changes to obesity coverage among the publicly insured makes understanding primary care physicians' barriers to providing effective obesity care critical. Existing research suggests that primary care physicians face numerous challenges to providing optimal obesity care which include knowledge deficits, negative attitudes and structural barriers. Future research should further examine the impact of physician BMI on obesity care. In particular, why patient-perceived physician is higher among heavier and why the patterns we observed between physician BMI and trust in weight-related counseling differ by the type of counseling."

Explore further: Physician's weight may influence obesity diagnosis and care

More information: "How does physician BMI impact patient trust and perceived stigma," was written by Sara N. Bleich, Kimberly A. Gudzune, Wendy L. Bennett, Marian P. Jarlenski and Lisa A. Cooper.

Related Stories

Physician's weight may influence obesity diagnosis and care

January 26, 2012
A patient's body mass index (BMI) may not be the only factor at play when a physician diagnoses a patient as obese. According to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the diagnosis ...

Overweight physicians are also vulnerable to weight bias

March 20, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Overweight patients are not the only ones who suffer weight stigmatization in the doctor's office, a Yale study finds. Physicians who are overweight or obese are vulnerable to biased attitudes from patients ...

Physicians admit feeling under qualified and lacking necessary education to treat obesity

December 20, 2012
Your primary care physician may be your first choice for assistance with most health-related issues, but according a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, primary care physicians ...

Study finds physicians less likely to 'bond' with overweight patients

April 22, 2013
In a small study of 39 primary care doctors and 208 of their patients, Johns Hopkins researchers have found that physicians built much less of an emotional rapport with their overweight and obese patients than with their ...

'Doctor shopping' by obese patients negatively affects health

May 21, 2013
Overweight and obese patients are significantly more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to repeatedly switch primary care doctors, a practice that disrupts continuity of care and leads to more emergency room visits, ...

Physicians' belief about obesity causes impacts advice and care

February 8, 2013
How physicians view the causes of obesity may impact the advice they give their patients. The findings are from a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who compared the relationship ...

Recommended for you

Link between obesity and cancer is not widely recognized

November 17, 2017
A new study published in the Journal of Public Health has shown that the majority of people in the United Kingdom do not understand the connection between weight issues and cancer. Obesity is associated with thirteen types ...

Reversing negative effects of maternal obesity

November 8, 2017
A drug that increases energy metabolism may lead to a new approach to prevent obesity in children born to overweight mothers, UNSW Sydney researchers have found.

Serving water with school lunches could prevent child, adult obesity: study

November 7, 2017
Encouraging children to drink plain water with their school lunches could prevent more than half a million youths in the U.S. from becoming overweight or obese, and trim the medical costs and indirect societal costs associated ...

Why do some obese people have 'healthier' fat tissue than others?

November 1, 2017
One little understood paradox in the study of obesity is that overweight people who break down fat at a high rate are less healthy than peers who store their fat more effectively.

Engineered protein treatment found to reduce obesity in mice, rats and primates

October 19, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. report that an engineered version of a protein naturally found in the body caused test mice, rats and cynomolgus monkeys to lose weight. In their ...

Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. adults now obese (Update)

October 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Almost forty percent adults in the United States are now obese, continuing an ever-expanding epidemic of obesity that's expected to lead to sicker Americans and higher health care costs.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.