Starting the dialogue about weight in the doctor’s office
Recently a friend sent me an e-mail which read in part:
I did have an interesting conversation with my podiatrist and I thought of you while I was having it. So…I was at the podiatrist to have my orthotics upgraded. I was describing some pain I have in my feet when I run longer than a certain distance. Through the course of the conversation, I said to him…”it probably doesn’t help that I have gained some weight.” His response was, “I never have that conversation with my patients.” This surprised me because it would seem that my weight has a direct impact on my feet when I run (literally!). So, I brought it up again in a slightly different way. His response…” I never have that conversation with my patients.” And I thought, WOW. Here I am bringing it up and he won’t even talk about it. Guess he doesn’t get paid for my weight loss! Still I found it surprising and enlightening about the challenges people face in the medical community about managing their weight. I wasn’t looking for him to help me lose weight, but still. Call me crazy!
No, I won’t call my friend crazy, because her experience is completely normal. Studies confirm that doctors and patients manage to avoid having this conversation all the time; this doctor was more determined than some, but not unusual. Often neither party is eager to broach the subject.
Rather than rehash the reasons for the status quo, I would love to hear from some doctors and patients who have managed to have productive discussions about weight in the course of an office visit. What made it work? Who started the discussion, and how was it done? How did it help? What was the follow up? E-mail me at email@example.com. I hope to receive some useful tips to share in a future column.