Taking health advice from (professional) people who do not look the part

Would you? Do you?
I remember when I was a smoker I had a physical by a rather plump doc, who said I was in good health but should really stop smoking. I almost responded straight back that she should stop eating so much and get some bloody exercise.
A few years later I had another physical by a different doctor, a BIG guy who was my height but easily twice my size, and none of it muscle, who noted my 10-15 cigs a day declaration and then still said I’m healthy with no comment on smoking.
My takeaway impressions were that I wouldn’t go back to either doc for an ailment, but the second one confused me - did he not care? Was he a smoker himself? Did he believe all the fuss about smoking being bad to be overblown?

I’ve never had a personal trainer, but would have trouble taking instruction from someone who didn’t look like they followed their own advice, same for nutritionist/dietician.

Your thoughts? Am I being too irrational?

I honestly too have a difficult time with doctors who are overweight themselves. I think there have been some studies that overweight doctors are less critical, or less likely to make suggestions about health, because of their own weight issues.

I think it is being a little judgmental though. There’s a huge difference between knowing the science and studies and being able to practice medicine, and actually following the advice yourself. Because essentially it isn’t the doctor giving you an opinion, he/she’s giving you FACTS, and it doesn’t matter if the doctor is fat or not, the facts are what they are.

Still, I admit it is hard to take them as seriously.

My problem comes not with looks, but with accents. I assume that the state issues licenses to qualified doctors, but if I have to struggle to understand a thick accent, I’m probably not going to stick with that doctor. In fact, I changed once because in addition to the accent, he acted like he was afraid to come near me (I’m really not that scary a person!!) When he used his stethoscope, he was literally arms-length away, and when I mentioned a pain, he immediately wrote me a prescription without examining the area! :eek: So even if he spoke perfectly clear English, I’d have gone elsewhere.

And yeah, I’d probably have issues with an obese physician telling me to exercise and watch my diet.

Good advice is still good advice whatever the source. If a fat doctor told me I should exercise more, I probably should exercise more. Of course, the doctor should too, but that doesn’t mean his advice is invalid.

My current doctor (actually, she’s an NP), is a little plump, but she has a good bedside manner and gives good advice, so I keep going to her.

studies have shown some Drs. are hesitant to tell women to lose weight, because they think it might be considered an insult. They don’t worry about that issue with men.

I once had a doctor say she’d pray for me. I was out of there so fast. Not because I’m against anyone praying for me but because that’s not what I’m paying a doctor to do. Who’s to say my reaction was the right one? A competent doctor could both practice medicine and pray for her patients. Still, that was a red flag.

Being a retired health professional and having worked with people from all walks of life I tried to be flexible in my various approaches to and language I used with my patients. I’ve had more than one person tell me I didn’t seem like a health professional.

Fitting the mold is never something I’ve aspired to but I do believe strongly in practicing what I preach. Your advice may be correct, but if you don’t use it, your creditability is going to be called into question.

I think in the case of the 2nd doctor, it may have been a case of not wanting to fight a losing battle; he probably figures you haven’t lived under a rock, and know that smoking’s bad for you, so why antagonize you by admonishing you for something you’re almost certainly already aware of?

I personally don’t have a problem with going to a Dr. who’s not necessarily in perfect shape, smokes, etc… They’re people too, and in some sense, I might feel more comfortable with a fat doctor since they’re right there with me- they’re going to have a better intuitive sense of what sorts of problems I’m facing than some skinny runner would.

I think I would feel more comfortable with a doctor who was a bit overweight telling me to lose weight and talking about his/her own struggles, than with one who appeared perfectly in shape who had no idea how hard it can be to lose weight.

I don’t expect my doctors to be morally perfect. Just because the guy who suggests you stop smoking is overweight, that doesn’t mean that smoking isn’t a stupid thing to do.

Would you stop if the doctor was an Adonis? (Or an Aphrodite?) Or would you just keep looking for excuses?

I’d say the unspoken response was emotional rather than rational.

We often take the position that someone has no business pointing out our flaws when they have flaws themselves. In the case of this doctor, however, it is most certainly his business to advise you on the matter of smoking, and his flaws have nothing to do with it.

If you wouldn’t care to go to such a person for health care and advice, for whatever reason, that’s certainly your prerogative. But I think it would be fair to say it’s rather irrational.

All things being equal, I prefer an overweight doctor to a thin one. Sometimes the more fit doctors see every problem that you have in terms of your weight, so instead of dealing with your health issues, they just tell you to lose weight as if that will solve everything. In my experience, an overweight doctor is more likely to see each issue discretely, and not make everything about weight.

A doctor could use it to their advantage:

“We both know losing weight is hard, I mean look at me! But we’d both be better off if we lost a few pounds. Here is what I have been doing to take better care of myself <stuff> …What sorts of things would work with your lifestyle?”

It is rarely helpful if the patient feels judged. Especially with eating issues, existing shame is one of the reasons people over-eat, and the last thing they need is to have that exacerbated. Way easier to hear the truth from someone who is living your hell than someone who has just read studies in NEJM that conclude it is pretty warm down there.

Yeah. I once went to a skinny doctor who told me if I didn’t want to use SSRIs for my occasional anxiety attacks, I should go on a vegan diet to fix it. (Because when you can’t cope with the simplest tasks of normal life due to panic, completely overhauling the way you eat to something incredibly restrictive is easy and helpful!)

I will say that I’m perfectly happy to hear a medical fact from a fat/smoking/whatever doctor, such as “If you could lose 10% of your body weight, you would have a much lower chance of diabetes.” But I wouldn’t really trust that person to help me on the “how” of making such a change. If the doctor can’t figure out how to lose extra pounds, how is she going to help me learn to accomplish it, you know?

Of course, the last I saw no one knows how to consistently accomplish the behavior changes that lead to weight loss. We all know what should be done, but 95% of the attempts to actually DO it fail, whether guided by a professional or not.