Not Enough Talking

Black obese patients receive less weight-related counseling than white obese patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Race is a factor when it comes to the amount of weight-related counseling that obese patients receive, according to a recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Led by Sara Bleich, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management, researchers found that black obese patients receive less weight-related counseling than white obese patients.

For the study, Bleich and colleagues examined the relationship between doctor-patient race concordance and weight-related counseling. That is, they sought to find if the race of the doctor and the race of the patient had an effect on the weight-related counseling that patients received. The researchers measured weight-related counseling as weight reduction, diet and nutrition, and exercise.

After analyzing 2,231 visits to physicians, the researchers found that black obese patients seeing white physicians were less likely to receive exercise counseling than white obese patients seeing white physicians. Furthermore, black obese patients seeing black physicians were less likely to receive weight reduction counseling than white obese patients seeing black physicians.

Past studies have shown that black obese adults are disproportionally uninformed that they are overweight compared to white obese adults. This study highlights another racial disparity that needs to be further understood in order to improve patient counseling among the black population, says Lisa Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., senior author of the study and a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School.

Individuals who are obese have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30kg/m2. Obesity can increase the risk of adverse health complications such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is 51 percent more prevalent among blacks than among whites. With the exception of Colorado and the District of Columbia, all US states have a prevalence of obesity of 20 percent or more.

The study appears online in the January 2011 issue of the journal Obesity.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 24, 2011
Last Updated:
January 25, 2011