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Gender And Race Of Physician And Patient May Impact The Efficiency Of Obesity Counseling
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For years it has been known that people who are overweight or obese benefit from some counseling, however, several recent studies have revealed that both the gender and the race of the patient as well as the physician may have some impact on how much counseling is being done as well as how efficient that counseling is likely to be.

A study that was released in a 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed that there was a correlation between the patient and physicians gender when receiving weight related counseling, including diet and nutritional guidance as well as exercise guidance. In that study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and John Hopkins University, it was discovered that obese men who were seeing a male doctor were far more likely to receive these types of counseling than women who were seeing the same doctor.

The study theorizes that men receive increased weight loss counseling because physical fitness and masculinity are linked in most people’s minds, including that of the medical professionals. That thinking, outdated though it may be, could lead the doctor’s to think that men would be more receptive to such counseling and more likely to exercise. The study revealed that men seeing male doctors were 60% more likely to receive diet or nutritional counseling while they were even more likely to receive exercise counseling as well. It is important that counseling involve as many aspects and factors as possible.

With one third of all American adults classified as obese, counseling is not only important, it could be crucial in getting those patients to start taking some positive steps toward their own recovery. Counseling has been shown to play a role in not only the initial start of a weight loss and exercise plan but in their continued success. Few people who are not getting some kind of support from their medical professionals or from other sources will have the continued success that they need for their own health.

Another study, this one focusing on race and weight loss counseling, revealed that obese African Americans were less likely to receive any type of weight loss counseling regardless of the ethnicity of the doctor. That study, conducted by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that patients, whether they were white or black, did receive some counseling from white doctors but that the black patients received slightly less than their white counterparts. The level and time spent counseling dropped across the board when the doctor was black. It is ironic that African Americans, who are at increased risk for hypertension and kidney disease even at normal weights, would not receive increased weight loss counseling.

Each of these studies also revealed that female doctors did not spend nearly as much time counseling patients about nutrition, diet or exercise regardless of their gender or race.


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