Patients Don't Like Fat Doctors, Either

I suppose it's a no-brainer but obese people trust overweight physicians over normal-weight physicians on diet advice, according to a new study.

Physicians' body mass indexes (BMIs) were measured to determine size.  But interestingly, doctors were on the scales for another reason in the study.  Patients also didn't like going to obese physicians.

I can certainly relate to that.  One of my favorite GPs was a doc with a bulging middle, and though I really enjoyed spending time with him (more than five minutes, another fave), I couldn't help thinking how much it could possibly be helping me to see someone with health authority who was, well, fat.  How well was he taking care of himself?

On the other hand, studies have also revealed that many physicians who are normal weight look down their noses at overweight patients.  Studies have found that doctors are nicer to thin people, treating them with the kindness and warmth they don't feel for their heavier patients.

"With respect to trust in weight-related advice, we found that patients more strongly trusted diet advice from overweight primary care physicians as compared to normal BMI primary care physicians," quotes Sara Bleich, PhD, associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management in an article.  Bleich also said that patient perceptions of "weight-related stigma increased with physician BMI."

Patients seeing chunky primary care physicians, as compared to normal BMI physicians, "were significantly more likely to report feeling judged because of their (own) weight," reported Bleich said. So if you're a skinny person (which, I am not, but I am also not obese!), you're not going to like going to an overweight doctor.

“While weight-related stigma has been documented among health professionals for decades, as well as lower physician respect towards patients with a higher BMI, our finding that weight-related stigma increases with physician BMI was quite surprising,” notes Bleich.


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