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How physicians address obesity may affect patients' success in losing weight

docvisitFor some patients, the need to begin a weight-loss program to lower health risks connected with obesity is urgent. But losing weight and keeping it off for the long term can be a challenging journey for a person – and patient-doctor conversations about weight loss can be complex.

study (purchase required) recently published online in Preventive Medicine looked at the way patients perceive their physicians' attitudes about obesity, and the patients' change in weight following the delivery of weight-loss advice. For their work, the researchers conducted Internet-based surveys in 500 adults with a body-mass index of 25 or more.

As explained in a Johns Hopkins release:

The participants were asked, “In the last 12 months, did you ever feel that this doctor judged you because of your weight?” Twenty one percent of participants said they believed they had been.

Further, 96 percent of those who felt judged did report attempting to lose weight in the previous year, compared to 84 percent who did not. But only 14 percent of those who felt judged and who also discussed weight loss with their doctor lost 10 percent or more of their body weight, while 20 percent who did not feel judged and also discussed shedding pounds lost a similar amount.

"Negative encounters can prompt a weight loss attempt, but our study shows they do not translate into success," study leader Kimberly Gudzune, MD, MPH, an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in the release. "If we are their advocates in this process -- and not their critics -- we can really help patients to be healthier through weight loss."

Previously: Study: When discussing childhood obesity, words carry weight and A medical student calls for increased nutrition education for doctor
Photo by Stanford EdTech

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