Why Won't Doctors Tell Black Patients How to Lose Weight?

Study finds that race plays a role in obesity counseling.

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Bad: Blacks have higher rates of obesity than whites.

Worse: Doctors are less likely to counsel overweight black than white patients on how to lose weight, according to a study by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health researchers reported in the Los Angeles Times today.

Before you write it off as simple racism: The study found that white patients treated by black doctors were still more likely to receive weight and exercise counseling than black patients treated by black doctors.

What’s really going on? "Our findings could be due to a number of factors, such as negative physician perspectives toward 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.

"Further research is needed to understand how to improve obese patient counseling, particularly among the black population," Dr. Lisa Cooper, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Health, Policy and Management, added.

The black community may have a comparatively relaxed attitude toward weight, but obesity isn’t just about an aesthetic preference for curves. Being overweight leads to serious health issues (yes, even death). We need to be able to depend on doctors -- black and white alike -- to give lifesaving weight-loss advice.

So we'd like to see the results of the follow-up study on these baffling medical findings, stat.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

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