Is Race a Factor in Obesity Counseling?

FRIDAY Jan. 14, 2011 -- Obese black patients receive less weight reduction and exercise advice from doctors than obese white patients, a new study finds.

The researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health also said they were surprised to find that white patients treated by black doctors were still more likely to receive weight and exercise counseling than black patients treated by black doctors.

"Our findings could be due to a number of factors such as negative physician perspectives towards black patients or a lack of sensitivity to the underlying levels of obesity risk for black patients as compared to white patients," study author Sara Bleich, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, said in a university news release.

For this study, the researchers analyzed national data from 2,231 visits of black and white obese patients to their doctors. The findings appear in the January online issue of the journal Obesity.

"Previous studies have shown disparities in the proportion of black obese adults informed by physicians that they were overweight compared to white obese patients. We now also see that black patients are receiving different medical counseling as well," senior author Dr. Lisa Cooper, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Health, Policy and Management, said in the news release.

"Further research is needed to understand how to improve obese patient counseling, particularly among the black population," Cooper added.

In the United States, blacks have a much higher rate of obesity than other races, which puts them at increased risk for a number of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines obesity trends in the United States.

Posted: January 2011


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