In a survey published in the Obesity Journal, researchers from John Hopkins University found that obese doctors are less likely to help obese patients shed pounds and to diagnosis them correctly. When surveying 500 primary care physicians, they found that 30 percent of normal weight doctors were likely to talk about weight loss with their obese patients versus only 18 percent of overweight doctors.
They also found that normal weight doctors were 93 percent likely to diagnosis an overweight patient, compared with to 7 percent of overweight doctors. Overall, if a patients' body weight met or exceeded the doctor's own body weight, the patient was more likely to be judged obese. In a country where almost one-third of adults are considered obese, the research findings raise a lot of concern about the bias of those treating medical issues. "I'd be surprised if this behavior is intentional," study author Dr. Sara Bleich, an assistant professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Time Healthland. "I think a lot of it is subconscious. What this study suggests is that physical attributes of physicians have a much bigger contribution to their care of patients than I realized before."
Should physicians be subject to their own advice based on the apparent bias? Is weight really a factor or can the job of efficiently providing health care be done by physicians of all sizes? Also, is it possible that perhaps the "normal" weight physicians are misdiagnosing their overweight patients?