Doctors seem to treat obese just as well as others

Wed Apr 7, 2010 12:50pm EDT
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By Rachael Myers Lowe

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite surveys that show doctors have negative attitudes about heavier people, older obese patients don't get short shrift at the doctor's office, according to a new study.

The new study, of nearly 70,000 patients, found that obese and overweight patients were just as likely to be offered quality medical care as normal weight patients.

The findings, published in the April 7, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association contradict earlier work that suggested the obese might get substandard care because many doctors don't like treating them.

The findings of this study surprised the researchers.

"We were not expecting these findings," lead author Dr. Virginia Chang of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center told Reuters Health. "We were fully expecting to find that obese patients got lower quality care and were less likely to get recommended care."

Chang and colleagues looked at data collected by the Veterans Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The researchers did not examine whether medical care reduced illness or death but rather whether the care was offered as recommended by accepted treatment guidelines.

They looked at quality-of-care measures for 8 common preventive services including diabetes management, flu and pneumonia vaccines, and cancer screening and concluded that there is "no evidence" that obese and overweight men and women get less care on common preventive services.   Continued...