Physicians Not Having the Right Conversations with Obese Patients

Check out Faisal Anwar Virginia’s latest blog post:


Obesity is one of the most prevalent problems in the US, so why aren’t doctors and patients talking about it?

It is extremely difficult to watch TV or read the news without being aware of the growing obesity problem in the United States.  Obesity numbers continue to rise and while medical technology and pharmaceuticals are constantly developing new ways to deal with the problem, a recent study suggests that physicians and patients are not necessarily being straight with each other about obesity.

A Medical News Today article covers the new study, which seems to show a physician/patient disconnect on the issue of obesity.  The study surveyed around 1000 patients and 500 doctors around the country.  The goal was to ascertain what percentage of doctors say they have frequent conversations with their patients about the dangers of obesity as well as healthy ways to combat the problem.  Most doctors polled responded that they broach these subjects regularly with their patients.  However, the patients polled tell a different story.  Here is a breakdown of some of the salient numbers the study produced:

Every doctor polled said they talk about obesity,and the importance of maintaining a healthy weight.  On the other hand, only 56% of patients polled agree that their doctors bring up these issues.

92% are doctors surveyed say they discuss Body Mass Index with their obese patients but 67% of patients said their doctors rarely bring up the issue of BMI, if ever.

100% of doctors responded that they offer weight loss suggestions and tools but only 37% of patients believe their doctor can help them lose weight.

These are some worrisome numbers which appear to indicate a gross communication barrier.  Whatever advice these physicians are giving, it doesn’t seem to be sinking in to their patients.  So what’s the solution?  Eisai, who conducted the study, says they will be bringing in a panel of experts over the next few years to increase communication on the issue of obesity between patients and doctors.  They plan to address the sometimes uncomfortable problem of discussing weight and weight loss from the perspective of both physicians and patients.  Hopefully this will help both parties learn to have more productive conversations about obesity in the exam room.

via Faisal Anwar Virginia


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