Scottish Cancer Prevention Network

Doctor’s BMI and Obesity Management


Apr 12

A recent report of a cross-sectional survey published in the medical journal Obesity, suggests that physicians with a normal range BMI provide the recommended obesity care to patients, and feel more comfortable doing so, than physicians with a high BMI1. The report stated that physicians who have a high BMI themselves are less likely to initiate discussion for weight loss than physicians with a normal range BMI (86% v 11%). The probability of a physician recording an obesity diagnosis was significantly higher in those with a normal range BMI also (93% v 7%).


The 2010 Scottish Health Survey of knowledge, attitudes and motivations to health reported that 39% of adults thought their weight to be about right, while 47% thought they were overweight and 8% considered themselves to be very overweight.  The SHS measurements however found that 28% were obese. Previous work has shown that 37% of overweight people think their weight was” about right” suggesting that the individual perception of one’s own weight may not appropriately correspond with their actual BMI.


As many overweight patients in Scotland are failing to recognise their body weight category, careful thought needs to be given as to how people might be made aware of this and encouraged and supported to avoid practice weight management and reduce cancer risk, especially if doctors lack enthusiasm about engaging patients on this topic.

  1. Bleich, S.N., et al. 2012. Impact of Physician BMI on Obesity Care and Beliefs. Obesity. Available from:
  2. Bromley, C., Graham, H. and Sharp, C. 2010. Knowledge, attitudes and motivations to health: A module of the Scottish Health Survey. NHS Health Scotland: Edinburgh.