Weight bias and discrimination permeates every part of society. Negative attributes are often unjustifiably ascribed to those who are overweight or obese. As health professionals, we know the importance of exercise, eating well and maintaining a healthy body weight. Following these guidelines aren't always easy due to work related stressors, scheduling issues and inconsistent dietary intake. Sometimes these factors lead to increases in weight and as heath care professionals this can be especially challenging both professionally and personally. Perceptions regarding a Physician's increased weight can affect both the patient's and the Physician's own views regarding various aspects of care.
Physicians are not immune to the effects that body weight can have on perceptions. When it comes to patient lifestyle and diet counseling, a Physician's size can affect their views regarding their own capabilities. Obese Physicians reported decreased confidence in their weight loss counseling abilities as compared to non-obese Physicians when asked(2).These diminished feelings of confidence also extended to their feelings about providing patient counseling regarding diet and exercise changes(2).
(3) Puhl, R. etal. The effect of physicians' body weight on patient attitudes: implications for physician selection, trust and adherence to medical advice. International Journal of Obesity (2013) 37, 1415–1421; doi:10.1038/ijo.2013.33;
(2) Bleich, S. N., Bennett, W. L., Gudzune, K. A. and Cooper, L. A. (2012), Impact of Physician BMI on Obesity Care and Beliefs. Obesity, 20: 999–1005. doi:10.1038/oby.2011.402
(1)Hash, R., et al. Does Physician Weight Affect Perception of Health Advice? (2003) Preventative Medicine, 36: 41–44. Does Physician Weight Affect Perception of Health Advice?