Physicians With Overweight Patients: Tell It Like It Is!

April 29, 2011

Fewer than half of the overweight patients and fewer than two-thirds of the obese patients in this study had been told by their physician that they were overweight.

Overweight and obese patients who are told by a physician that they are overweight are much more likely to have realistic perceptions about their weight, have a desire to lose weight, and attempt to lose weight. However, fewer than half of the overweight patients and fewer than two-thirds of the obese patients in this study had been told by their physician that they were overweight.

Post and coworkers studied the personal perception of obesity among overweight adults and what effect physician opinion has on patients’ weight control efforts. They examined data from 7790 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey who had a body mass index of at least 25.0 kg/m2.

Both overweight and obese patients who were told that they were overweight were more likely to accurately identify themselves as overweight than those who were not told (94% vs 63.1% and 96.7% vs 81.4%, respectively). Almost 37% of overweight patients and 19% of obese patients did not consider themselves overweight if their physician said nothing.

The authors noted that telling more overweight and obese patients that they are overweight may help encourage them to change their behavior and lower their risk of many diseases.