Doctors, Weight and Tough Conversations

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Has your primary care doc ever talked with you about whether your weight is healthy or not?

Now authors of a new study say that conversation is less likely to happen if your doctor is overweight or obese. One key finding was that overweight and obese doctors were less likely to discuss weight with patients than were doctors with a healthy BMI.

But I found another statistic even more alarming: Even among the healthy BMI doctors, only 30% reported discussing weight with obese patients.

The health risks associated with obesity are clear – including increased risk for many cancers. So why aren’t doctors doing more to help their patients?

I know from working closely with doctors and other primary care providers, there are many barriers to these discussions, including time, training and more immediate concerns at appointments. And many physicians  in this study reported not feeling competent to provide counseling on diet and exercise.

The doctor may not need to offer intensive counseling, however, just bringing up the issue is key. Docs could offer referral to a registered dietitian, a local hospital class or other community weight loss support group.

People are more successful with weight loss when they have some support, accountability and education on food choices and physical activity. If you are wondering whether your weight is healthy or looking for guidance for weight loss, you may want to ask your doctor about your weight and then request a referral.

You can also start here with ideas and information about how to get started with weight loss. You can also read about 7 successful strategies for weight loss and maintenance.




Author: Alice RD

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention into action by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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