Why Overweight Doctors Aren’t Unusual Today

It's not unusual to see overweight patients visiting their doctor. After all, 70% of Americans are overweight and 40% are obese. What’s also not unusual these days is overweight physicians. While physicians are less likely than average Americans to be overweight or obese, they're not immune to struggles with weight. Even more concerning is that a physician’s own BMI may be strongly associated with how he or she counsels patients about obesity. Overweight doctors report significantly less confidence than their normal-weight colleagues in giving overweight patients diet and exercise counseling. Furthermore, overweight physicians report that they’re concerned that their overweight patients don’t trust weight loss advice coming from them — based on the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Unfortunately, medical schools only set aside roughly 25 hours for nutritional education. What’s lacking in the medical classroom is also lacking on medical plates. Foods served at medical conferences is infamously unhealthy, and residents in training have some of the worst eating habits on the planet. Once they finish their medical training, the ingrained habits of fast food and lack of exercise often don't change. True change in medical school education is needed, as well as hospital guidelines to ensure that doctors are not sending the wrong message to patients.