Warning: Your doctor’s BMI may be dangerous to your health

Mar 28

Social marketers realize the power of encouraging behavior change through the doctor-patient relationship.  With health information coming at us from various sources and channels, the doctor, or more broadly speaking, the health professional, continues to be the #1 trusted source for health advice.  And this is a good thing; health professionals are educated, they know how to interpret and apply research findings to individual patients, and they understand the whole patient.

But, a recent study of 500 primary care physicians presents an interesting wrinkle in this paradigm.  The survey found that doctors who are overweight/obese are less likely to engage in discussions about weight loss with overweight patients than doctors with a normal BMI, and they feel less confident in providing diet and exercise counseling. Even more interestingly, doctors are more likely to have weight loss discussions with patients if they perceive them to be more overweight than they themselves are.  Absolutely fascinating, though not counterintuitive.  And it’s likely that this kind of bias extends to other lifestyle, screening, and disease self-management behaviors.

This is something that we have to take into account when engaging health professionals in patient behavior change campaigns.  Doctors are people too, with their own perceptions, biases, and realities; how to shed those biases is not something taught in medical school…

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 at 2:59 pm and is filed under Behavior Change, Public Health, Research + Insights, Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Warning: Your doctor’s BMI may be dangerous to your health”

  1. sarah says:

    such an eye-opening article…