COMMENTARY

What About Overweight Docs? Physicians Are Talking

Brandon Cohen

Disclosures

December 20, 2011

The Topic: Overweight Physicians

Does a physician have a responsibility to have a trim, healthy appearance for the sake of patients? Is a doctor's obesity a major problem, a manageable defect, or completely irrelevant to that doctor's practice?

In a recent discussion on Medscape's Physician Connect (MPC), an all-physician discussion group, doctors debated the issues surrounding their obligations to staying in shape.

Responding physicians differed on whether a significant number of overweight doctors actually exists. Using primarily local perspectives, they compared notes. One general practitioner wrote, "I very rarely see obese physicians, and I have never known a physician who smoked."

But an internist noted that doctors were "[some of] the unhealthiest, fattest humans in the world . . . Keep running after the money, but that type of running is the wrong exercise for fat loss." And a psychiatrist noted the high incidence of the "morbidly, waddlingly obese" in psychiatry.

A recent study[1] found that 38% of male physicians had a body mass index greater than 24.9 (putting them in the range generally considered overweight) and 8% had a body mass index greater than 29.9 (putting them in the obese category).

Why then do doctors, who know the risks of excess weight, persist in an unhealthy lifestyle?

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