Why Are Family Doctors Not Talking About Obesity?

  • From 1994 to 2004, the percentage of obese Americans rose from 23% to 34%.

According to Penn State researchers…

  • From 1995-1996 to 2007-2008, the percentage of weight counseling visits performed by primary care physicians declined from 7.8% to 6.2%.
  • Not surprisingly, the rates of diet and exercise counseling decreased by similar percentages.
  • And if that wasn’t bad enough, the greatest declines were seen with patients suffering from hypertension, diabetes and obesity.

What the heck is going on here?

Obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes rates are increasing year after year and it seems that our doctors are too shy to talk to us about it.

Any thoughts?

  • Have our doctors given up hope that they can convince their patients to tackle their obesity problem?
  • Has the overall increase in obesity make overweight patients look “normal” in the eyes of their physicians?
  • Do overweight doctors feel like hypocrites dispensing advice on nutrition & exercise?

What do you think???


Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

3 thoughts on “Why Are Family Doctors Not Talking About Obesity?

  • January 4, 2015 at 12:45 am

    Why on earth do you need professionals? Just eat less and exercise more for crying out loud! Excuses excuses excuses – take responsibility for what you put in your mouth and move.

  • March 27, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    There are a number of reasons why and not necessarily because it is a touchy subject. Mostly because (research has found): NO TIME to talk about weight and weight managment, NO KNOWLEDGE of resources available to these clients particilarly of they have other health issues like hypertension/diabetes, RELUCTANCE to recommend a personal trainer because they do not have a reliable and safe trainer to suggest and the MAIN REASON I believe is that patients are not developing a relationship with their GP’s to the point that these issues can be discussed. Physicians are trained to provide prescriptions not health prevention information. If the patient comes in with a “symptom” the natural response is to “treat”. I recommend physicians start advocating for fitness nurses to assist in this process and work together to improve health outcomes. We have a long way to go…

  • October 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Hey Doug,

    It’s a complex subject for sure. One problem that I’ve seen with some colleagues in family medicine is a reluctance to discuss weight issues with patients–particularly new patients.
    Why? I don’t think that it should be… But the fact is that it’s a sensitive topic. For a myriad of reasons, many people find it incredibly insulting to discuss their weight issues. It doesn’t matter if you frame with non-judgmental terms like BMI etc, to many patients it still translates to, “ARE YOU CALLING ME FAT, YOU SOB?”
    I do think it’s important for doctors to discuss issues such as BMI, weight, etc with patients. By not discussing it, patients often seem to assume, “well, my doctor’s never told me I have any issues with my weight, so I must be fine.”


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