Unless you've been asleep since the last Ice Age, you probably know that Western societies are dealing with an epidemic of obesity. The lastest figures show that 37% of Canadians are overweight and 24% obese.
As the kilos pile up, many of us turn to our physicians for advice on losing weight and living a more healthy lifestyle. In 2005, the estimated cost of obesity of canada was $4.3 billion, including $1.8 billion in the cost of managing obesity-related chronic conditions.
So, you may ask, how do physicians fare at advising you on how to lose weight? Not so good, according to a study just published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers at Duke Univerisity Medical Center looked at the performance of primary care physicians. As part of the study, the researchers recorded conversations between 40 MDs and 461 overweight or obese patients - with permission of course. The physicians were not told the purpose of the recording, so as to remove the bias of MDs being on their best behavior.
The main conclusions? The good news is that 69% of the physicains discussed weight loss with their patients. The bad news? Many of the doctors took a confrontational tone with their patients. When that happened, patients tended to tune the physician out. Encouragement and motivation worked the best.
Bottom line: MDs out there, if you want to play a role at encouraging patients to lose weight, DO NOT call them fat!