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Can Overweight Docs Really Give Credible Weight Loss Advice?


July 7, 2021 — Kevin Gendreau, MD, a weight reduction physician at Southcoast Well being in Fall River, MA, lets sufferers know that he was as soon as obese. He says this information evokes and motivates them to shed pounds.

After dropping 125 kilos over 18 months, “I can relate to their binges, hardships, and plateaus on a really private stage,” he says.

Peminda Cabandugama, MD, an endocrinologist and obesity medication specialist at Truman Medical Middle on the College of Missouri-Kansas Metropolis, has weighed between 180 and 240 kilos previously decade. He now weighs 225 kilos and has a wholesome way of life.

“I’ve had sufferers come to me saying, ‘I used to see a unique weight reduction physician who was not heavy. However how can he perceive what I’m going by way of?’” he says.

Cabandugama shares his weight reduction struggles with sufferers “to dispel this fable that weight administration is so simple as simply consuming an excessive amount of and never exercising. It includes a smorgasbord of feelings and hormones, some inside and outdoors of our management. I hope that sharing this permits me to attach extra with my sufferers in order that they know that even their well being care skilled goes by way of the identical challenges that they do.”

“Sufferers usually tend to make habits modifications when docs are supportive and have had related experiences and discuss their tales,” says Wendy Bennett, MD, an weight problems researcher and affiliate professor of drugs at Johns Hopkins College in Baltimore.

Do Sufferers Respect Chubby Docs?

Whereas Gendreau and Cabandugama have misplaced weight, some docs who wish to shed undesirable kilos have been unable to take action. What impression does this have on sufferers?

Docs generally have biased attitudes towards chubby sufferers, however few research have checked out whether or not sufferers have biases in the direction of chubby docs. The outcomes range and should rely on whether or not or not the sufferers are chubby.

A random on-line survey of 358 members recommended that no matter their very own weight, folks had biases about physician weight gain. They considered the overweight or overweight docs as much less reliable and credible, which may lead the members to reject their medical recommendation and alter docs.

“Sufferers anticipate docs who’re offering well being care to be doing all the pieces they’ll to deal with their very own well being and well-being,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, an assistant scientific professor of drugs on the College of Maryland in Baltimore.

“I’m a doctor who believes you need to stroll the discuss — that the very best academics are those that stay it,” she says.

Nonetheless, “I do not suppose primarily based on this one experimental examine that we will conclude that chubby physicians are harming sufferers’ efforts to vary their habits,” notes Bennett, who was not concerned within the examine.

“I believe that sufferers do usually need to join with their physicians on extra private ranges, however with out the story behind the place the recommendation is coming from, sufferers might wrestle to belief a supplier who appears to be contradicting the messages,” she says.

A examine that Bennett helped lead means that sufferers aren’t biased in opposition to chubby docs in the event that they themselves must shed pounds. A nationwide survey of 600 chubby sufferers confirmed that 87% trusted weight loss plan recommendation from chubby major care docs, in comparison with 77% who trusted weight loss plan recommendation from docs who had a wholesome weight.

“This exhibits that sufferers had been extra trusting of physicians who’re extra like them, which may result in higher relationships. We all know from the research on race that sufferers are sometimes extra trusting of physicians from the identical race as them,” says Bennett.

Gendreau says that when he was severely overweight, some sufferers questioned whether or not to belief his weight reduction recommendation.

“It was very awkward after they turned to me and mentioned, ‘What about you?’ I might reply that it’s my job to tell them concerning the dangers to their well being,” he says.

Practically half (48%) of docs mentioned they’re attempting to shed pounds, in accordance with the 2021 Medscape Physician Lifestyle and Happiness Report. In consequence, many docs might find yourself within the place of seemingly advising to “do what I say, not what I do.”

Practically 3 in 5 Individuals try to shed pounds, in accordance with Gelesis poll results launched in December 2020.

Ought to Docs Pay Extra Consideration to Wellness?

Docs have an moral responsibility to keep up their very own well being and wellness to allow them to present secure and efficient medical care. In the event that they don’t have a wholesome way of life, they should make changes, the American Medical Association Code of Ethics advises.

Peeke agrees with the AMA. “We signed on to do that — we now have to exit of our strategy to carve out time, even when it’s simply quarter-hour the place we disguise away and eat that wholesome lunch that we introduced with us,” she says.

Gendreau suggests busy docs do what he did.

“I began by bringing wholesome snacks — small Ziploc luggage stuffed with blended nuts and berries — and expanded from there. This fashion, if I obtained hungry or confused between sufferers, I might have quick access to one thing nutritious,” he says.

He and Peeke additionally recommend making protein shakes or berry smoothies which might be low in sugar.

“These can preserve you full for hours as you sip them between sufferers,” says Gendreau.

Convincing busy docs to make way of life modifications could also be difficult. Sixty-five p.c of those that responded to the Doctor Life-style and Happiness Report say that they generally, not often, or by no means concentrate on their well being and wellness. Solely 45% mentioned they’re maintaining a healthy diet, and 65% mentioned they train.

“Self-care isn’t a precedence for many physicians as a result of we’re taught to deal with others and to place them first,” says Gendreau. “Like many docs, I had so many different priorities — household, pals, profession. Additionally, my final yr of medical college was so tough that my precedence was ending. I pushed my well being to the aspect and instructed myself that I might repair this later.”

Solely about 1 in 5 medical colleges require college students to take a diet course, in accordance with David Eisenberg, MD, an adjunct associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“I didn’t get one ounce of diet coaching, which is the rationale I turned a Pew Basis scholar in diet and metabolism. I needed to go exterior of my conventional coaching,” says Peeke.

“Physicians aren’t adequately skilled to do the behavioral counseling and motivational interviewing that’s wanted,” says Bennett. “We do a great job of diagnosing weight problems primarily based on physique mass index and understanding the connection with future well being situations. However most docs wrestle with each a scarcity of time and the ability set to make important habits modifications.”

“Medical college curriculum is targeted so closely on the pathology and pathophysiology of weight problems, moderately than the best way to forestall it with the suitable weight loss plan and train routine,” Gendreau says. “My doctor sufferers usually inform me that their very own training within the area of diet is missing, which may have an effect on their weight reduction journey and what they educate their sufferers.”

Gendreau, crediting his personal weight reduction journey in addition to his weight problems medication fellowship, says his confidence in discussing weight reduction with sufferers has soared.

Reframing Weight problems as a Continual Illness

Fairly than criticizing chubby folks, together with docs, for his or her private well being selections, a greater strategy is to consider weight or weight problems as a power sickness, says Bennett.

“If we perceive that weight problems is a power well being situation that individuals are fighting, we will empathize with them,” she says, recommending that extra suppliers share their weight reduction journeys with sufferers they provide way of life recommendation to, which can assist tackle and restore potential biases.

WebMD Well being Information


Kevin Gendreau, MD, weight reduction physician, Southcoast Well being, Fall River, MA.

Peminda Cabandugama, MD, endocrinologist and weight problems medication specialist, Truman Medical Middle, College of Missouri-Kansas Metropolis.

Wendy Bennett, MD, MPH, weight problems researcher, affiliate professor of drugs, Johns Hopkins College, Baltimore.

Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, assistant scientific professor of drugs, College of Maryland, Baltimore.

Gelesis: “New Survey Finds 71 Million Individuals Have Gained Weight All through the Pandemic.”

American Medical Affiliation: “Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 9.3.1.”

David Eisenberg, MD, adjunct affiliate professor of diet, Harvard T.H. Chan Faculty of Public Well being.

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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