Odds of obesity counseling greater for men who see male doctors

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Obesity and weight loss counseling

Obesity counseling is more prevalent for men who see male physicians find investigators

University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University scientists found women who are obese don't receive the same type of open dialogue from physicians about weight management as do men.

Octavia Pickett-Blakely, MD, MHS, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, says it may be that male physicians think men are more receptive to obesity counseling, contributing to ease of discussing weight related problems, compared to women - perhaps from "societal norms linking physical fitness to masculinity."

Female physicians less likely to counsel men or women about obesity, weight loss

The researchers think it may be personal attributes of physicians that cause the disparity. The study found male patients were sixty percent more likely to get diet and nutrition advice from a male physician and 76 percent more likely to receive exercise advice, compared to women with a female doctor.

The research also revealed female physicians were less likely to counsel either men or women about weight problems. The reason may be that most women are dissatisfied with their weight - women in general, don't seem to want to discuss the issue.


The information for the study included an analysis of clinical data from 5,667 obese patients who were part of the 2005-2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and included information received from clinicians about exercise, and weight loss counseling and diet and nutrition.

Pickett-Blakely suggests audio tapes and direct observation of physician to patient interactions might reveal more information about why women physicians aren’t talking about weight reduction and why female patients aren’t getting dietary, exercise and weight loss counseling.

The study found less than 30 percent of obese patients analyzed received counseling, even though 33 percent of the US population would benefit due to obesity. The finding also revealed men with male physicians were most likely to receive weight loss and nutrition and diet counseling.

Journal of Preventive Medicine: doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.02.020
"Weight-Loss Counseling Most Prevalent Between Male Physicians and Obese Men"
Octavia Pickett-Blakely, MD, MHS, Sara N. Bleich, PhD, and Lisa A. Cooper, MD, MPH

Image credit: Bing



That is very interesting. The part that struck me is the fact that women don't discuss the issues as much as men. At first thought, I would assume that wormen would be more likely because they are usually more interested in the topic. But I guess a female doctor who wants to loose weight herself might not want to discuss the issue with a patient until she is satisfied with herself... hmmm... Makes me think.