Overweight Patients Trust Diet Advice More From Overweight Doctors, Study Says

Overweight patients may trust diet advice more when it comes from an overweight doctor. That’s the conclusion of a new study performed by Johns Hopkins researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The findings have now been published online in the June 2013 journal Preventive Medicine.

The discovery may seem counter-intuitive. In fact, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study released in April suggested that patients are less likely to trust an overweight doctor.

The lead researcher of that study, Rebecca Puhl, had indicated that those findings were worrying because it seemed to suggest that an anti-fat bias might prevent a patient from listening to an overweight doctor’s advice.

Doctors are just as susceptible to the obesity epidemic as anybody else, with about half of them being overweight or obese. Therefore, it’s important to find out if their weight interferes with their ability to deliver their message.

The new study seemed to offer some reassurance on that score. According to a survey of 600 overweight or obese patients, heavier patients may actually feel more inclined to listen to heavier doctors. Dr. Sara Bleich, who participated in the research, reported:

“With respect to overall trust, our results suggest that overweight and obese patients trust their primary care physicians, regardless of their body weight…[W]e found that patients more strongly trusted diet advice from overweight primary care physicians as compared to normal BMI primary care physicians.”

The research team didn’t speculate on why they got this result.

Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m thinking that heavier patients might take the heavier doctor’s diet advice more seriously because they figure he or she can understand how hard it really is to fight the battle of the bulge. Who trusts a skinny person’s diet advice?

What do you think about the finding that overweight patients may respect an overweight doctor’s diet advice more?

[overweight patient and doctor photo by Luis Louro via Shutterstock]