Are Doctors Dealing with Overweight Patients the Right Way?

When you go to see a doctor, in many instances, you are literally putting your life in the physician’s hands. If you have a problem with your lungs, you fully expect the doctor to tell you. If you have a heart defect, you expect the doc to find it and fix it. Problem with your back – the doctor’s in the house. But according to a recent study, doctors are breaking a cardinal rule in their profession by not warning patients of the dangers of obesity.

In fact, many doctors cited in this study not only fail to paint a proper picture of obesity and its dire effects on health, but many are not even informing their patients that they have a weight problem at all.

The scary truth of the matter is that one cannot always tell if they are overweight. And speaking of obese people, many are suffering from eating disorders or addiction and do not realize that they are obese. They are in denial about the matter.

For as long as you can possibly comprehend, doctors were warning people of their weight. Even before medical science evolved to the point of diagnosing weight-related problems, doctors still knew that being obese flew in the face of health and would warn people of their weight problems.

Now that we know a bit more about weight-related health issues, we can easily see that being obese can lead to a laundry list of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Heart disease
  • Back and joint pain
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Birth defects
  • Stroke
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Poor mobility
  • Gout
  • On and on

Medical Study Shows Disturbing Trend

However, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 55% of overweight individuals and one-third of obese individuals were not told by their doctors of the issue. And we are not only speaking about a few patients here. From 2005 to 2008, over 5,500 patients took part in a government survey, and the large percentage of patients not informed of their weight issues is just astounding.

The saddest part revealed by the study was that, of the patients who were informed by their doctors, the concern had a profound impact on their lives. For obese patients whose doctors did not inform them, over 20% stated that they did not believe they were obese. Of the patients informed by their doctors, only 3% made similar claims.

The fact that overweight individuals do not view themselves as overweight is not surprising. In the U.S. alone, two-thirds of adults are overweight and, in previous studies, 23% of women and 48% percent of men surveyed believed their weight was fine.

Advice coming from a doctor carries more weight than advice coming from your friends and family and peers. Doctors are revered in society and always have been. They are the life-savers we call on when we need immediate help. We heed their advice and seek their wisdom in a variety of matters. If a doctor tells you that you are overweight, the message resonates more so than if some passerby on the street states the same thing.

We respect the white coat and, despite the overwhelming number of doctors failing to inform patients of their weight issues, we will continue to do so.

A lesson to be learned from this: When you visit a doctor, whether you’re going for an ear infection or a back spasm, make sure you enquire about other areas of your health, none the least of which being your weight.

You may feel fine and contend that you are not overweight, but your perception is also skewed. When prompted, the doctor will most likely weigh in with his or her opinion. Unfortunately, it seems as if they must be prompted in this day and age, because they are not nearly as forthcoming with their opinions with many overweight people as they should be.


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