Your doctor is blind to this health problem

When it comes to one of the most widespread health difficulties threatening the wellness of millions, doctors are not doing enough to help us get better. The reason: They can’t even see the obvious problem.

A study at the University of Liverpool demonstrates that doctors and other healthcare professionals see so many people who are overweight today that they don’t even realize that many of their patients are overweight and obese.

The large number of people carrying around too much body fat has made being overweight seem to be the new normal. As a result, doctors, say the researchers, are not doing enough to encourage people to get healthier by losing excess weight.

The scientists found that most people can’t tell when somebody is a healthy weight, slightly overweight or obese. Instead, most of us underestimate how much other people weigh and we think that being overweight is a healthy weight.

And when the researchers focused on the perceptions of doctor who are general practitioners (GPs), they found that even they are unable generally to recognize when someone is overweight.

“We wanted to find out if people can identify a healthy, overweight or obese person just by looking at them,” says researcher Eric Robinson.  “Primarily we found that people were often very inaccurate and this included trainee doctors and qualified doctors too. Moreover, we found that participants systematically underestimated when a person was overweight or obese.”

According to Robinson, this warp in our perceptions is hampering our medical care.

“Our study of GPs also found a tendency to underestimate weight which has important implications as it means that overweight and obese patients could end up not being offered weight management support or advice.”


Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.