After reading the article “Obesity: Doctors Need to Change Their Eating Habits Too” today in the L.A. Times Health Blog, I am reminded of my Practice What You Preach piece. The L.A. Times article discusses recent research into health habits of physicians, more specifically nutrition habits. It also references the fact that in 2004, it was reported that over 40% of physicians were overweight. That was eight years ago. I wonder where that number lies today.
This is concerning to me. I understand that no health care provider, nurse, physical therapist, cardiac rehabilitation technician, physiologist, or otherwise is expected to be perfect. But they do need to walk the talk if they want some credibility. To spend time being educated and developing skill is of the utmost importance as a professional. But in these fields, your physical health also plays a significant role in how you are perceived. I’m not saying I like this, or even agree with it, but it comes with the territory.
More importantly, do I want to be going to a physician who isn’t taking care of their physical well-being? How likely is it that they are going to tell me that I am overweight (or anything else for that matter), if they are overweight themselves? Personally, I need someone who is going to be knowledgeable, professional, and empathetic but also doing their best to make good health choices. Not perfect, but trying.
I realize this is a touchy subject, and physicians are facing the same challenges others face in our American food culture – especially during their training with crazy hours and expectations. Nonetheless, their physical health matters not only to them, but to their patients, and their professional reputation.
If you haven’t read my Practice What You Preach piece, check it out and let me know what you think.