Study finding shows doctors have to realize obesity is a disease, expert says
FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Mirroring a societal stigma against the obese, Johns Hopkins researchers report that doctors appear to have less respect for their heavy patients.
"Society, in general, has negative attitudes towards patients with obesity and physicians may be mimicking what is found in society," said lead researcher Dr. Mary Margaret Huizinga, an assistant professor of general internal medicine at Hopkins.
"Obesity bias has been increasing in society, even while race and gender bias has been decreasing," she added.
Huizinga got the idea for the research from her experiences working in a weight-loss clinic. "Many patients felt like because they were overweight, they weren't receiving the type of care other patients received," she said.
The report is published in the November issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
For the study, Huizinga's team asked 40 doctors to complete a questionnaire about their attitudes toward the obese patients they had seen.
The researchers found that, among the 238 patients, each 10-unit increase in body-mass index (BMI) added a 14 percent higher prevalence of low patient respect on the part of their doctor.
BMI is a calculation of weight and height, and is used to determine whether someone is a healthy weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI over 30 is considered obese.
How these attitudes affect the doctor/patient relationship isn't clear, Huizinga said. "But focus group studies have shown that patients may refuse to go back to see their physician, and they felt they were treated with a negative attitude," she said.
Other studies have found that negative attitudes toward patients by doctors causes doctors to give their patient less information about their condition, Huizinga said. "That decr
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