MUSC study finds physicians missing weight interventions

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -  An MUSC study found that clinicians can be important influencers when trying to get overweight and obese patients to deal with their weight and related health issues.

According to the study, telling an overweight patient that they are overweight was associated with a greater than eight-fold increase in the odds that the patient will classify themselves as overweight compared with a patient who has not been told they are overweight. For those who are obese, there was more than a six-fold increase, the report notes.

"In participants with BMIs [Body mass index] of 25 or greater, 45.2 percent reported that they had been told by their physician that they were overweight.  In participants with BMIs of 30 or greater, 66.4 percent reported that they had been told by their physician that they were overweight," the authors said.

Doctors analyzed data from the 2005 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on adults ages 20 to 64 years with a body mass index of at least 25. The researchers were evaluating patient perceptions of overweight and obesity, and they also examined reports of physician acknowledgement of patients' weight status and whether that was associated with a difference in perceptions and behaviors, such as desire or attempts to lose weight.

In addition, having been told that they were overweight or obese resulted in the participants having a greater desire to lose weight and, for some, attempting to lose weight, according to MUSC.

The study authors concluded that patient reports of being told by a physician that one is overweight were associated with major increases in the odds that overweight and obese participants had realistic perceptions of their own weight, had a desire to lose weight and had made recent attempts to lose weight.
"However, fewer than one-half of overweight and fewer than two-thirds of obese participants had been told by their physicians that they are overweight. This is an important intervention point that is being missed by many physicians.  Physicians need to tell more overweight and obese patients that they are overweight because this may help encourage them to change their behavior to lose weight and lower their risk for many diseases," the authors concluded.

Information provided by MUSC