New research from Johns Hopkins suggests doctors should be mindful of how they interact with their overweight patients.
According to the study, published online last week in the journal Preventive Medicine, overweight people who feel their physicians are judgmental of their size are more likely to try to shed pounds but are less likely to succeed.
"Negative encounters can prompt a weight loss attempt, but our study shows they do not translate into success," says study leader Kimberly A. Gudzune, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Ideally we need to talk about weight loss without making patients feel they are being judged. It's a fine line to walk, but if we can do it with sensitivity, a lot of patients would benefit."
Gudzune, whose practice focuses on obesity, says doctors may need to be taught how to talk about the topic in ways that make patients feel understood and supported.
"If we are their advocates in this process—and not their critics—we can really help patients to be healthier through weight loss," she says.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that healthcare providers counsel obese patients to lose weight, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now covers some behavioral counseling related to weight loss.Read more from Hopkins Medicine