Gender and weight loss recommendations

By Sheryl Kay • Published: August 10th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

No one looks forward to hearing a doctor recommend weight loss, but if there’s a need, surely we’d expect that’s what the physician would do.

And many times doctors do indeed advise patients that they must lose weight. but this is not always the case. Now, new research shows that more often than not, a doctor’s decision to recommend weight loss is often based more upon the gender of the patient and the physician than anything else.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine study focused on the relationship between patient-physician gender and weight-related counseling in overweight individuals. Using the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, researchers analyzed data from more than fifty-six-hundred obese patients, comparing how often weight reduction, exercise and nutrition monitoring were recommended to each gender by each gender.

While all the patients that were evaluated were deemed obese, the female patients seeing a female doctor had a sixty-percent lower rate of receiving diet and nutrition information compared with male patients who had male doctors. Women also had a much lower chance of getting a referral for implementing an exercise program. Even when women went to male doctors, the percentages were unchanged.

This was a concern for the researchers because with more than a third of the population now deemed obese, millions of women may be going without medical advice or intervention even though they have had a recent medical checkup.

It’s possible that doctors are more likely to counsel men because men are less sensitive about hearing they are overweight, but the study did not explore why men received more counseling than women.

What the findings do show is that people struggling with their weight can use a doctor’s advice and help… no matter whether they are a man or a woman.