In a recent study it was found that weight-related counseling is more prevalent between obese males and male physicians than obese women seeing a female physician.
Commenting on the study, Octavia Pickett-Blakely, MD, MHS, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, observed that "Perhaps societal norms linking physical fitness to masculinity leads male physicians to view obese men as more receptive to weight-related counseling and contributes to open dialogue about weight in male gender-concordant relationships. The findings of this study should heighten clinicians' awareness of how the personal attributes of physicians and patients may influence obesity care. Future studies should objectively measure weight-related communication (e.g., direct observation, audio tapes) in gender-concordant and gender-discordant patient physician encounters, and explore the potential role of physicians' explicit and implicit attitudes regarding obesity and gender, in weight-related counseling for obese patients."
The study revealed that male patients had about a 60% higher chance of receiving diet/nutrition advice and about a 76% higher chance of getting exercise counseling from male doctors compared to female patients receiving care from female doctors. In female patient/female physician pairs and female/male pairs of both types, there were no significant differences in any form of weight-related counseling.
Using data from the 2005-2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, researchers analyzed clinical data from 5,667 obese patients to determine association between patient-physician concordance and three types of counseling: diet/nutrition (30%), exercise (23%), and weight reduction (20%) counseling.
Although one-third of US adults are obese, less than 30% of these individuals receive weight-related counseling despite the fact that such counseling is associated with modest weight loss, which is in turn linked to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.