Dr. Octavia Pickett-Blakely of the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues say the study revealed that male patients had about a 60 percent higher chance of receiving diet/nutrition advice and about a 76 percent higher chance of getting exercise counseling from male doctors compared with female patients receiving care from female doctors.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that in female patient/female physician pairs and female/male pairs of both types, there were no significant differences in weight-related counseling.
"Perhaps societal norms linking physical fitness to masculinity leads male physicians to view obese men as more receptive to weight-related counseling and contributes to open dialogue about weight in male gender-concordant relationships.
"The findings of this study should heighten clinicians' awareness of how the personal attributes of physicians and patients may influence obesity care," Pickett-Blakely says in a statement.
The researchers used data from the 2005-2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey involving 5,667 obese patients to determine association between patient-physician concordance and three types of counseling: diet/nutrition, exercise and weight reduction counseling.