Dr. Shapiro completed his undergraduate education at UC San Diego, earning a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and a B.A. in Political Science. He furthered his education at UCLA where he earned a Masters Degree in Public…
Doctors: Practicing What We Preach?
Posted in Adoption by Dr. Jeremy F. Shapiro on Aug 11, 2009


As I glanced through the local newspaper yesterday, I came across an article title I've been meaning to discuss for quite some time..."Does a doctor's weight matter"?  Every day, through out the office day, I counsel children and their families about the importance of healthy eating and daily exercise.  On some occasions, I feel the need to hammer the point home with a bit more purpose when I have, let's say, a 10-year-old with a body mass index (BMI) in the 99th percentile.  Now granted, when a child (or adult, for that matter) is extremely overweight, it may not be as simple as just some straightforward reminders and further work-up may be needed, but I certainly believe there is no harm in emphasizing the importance of healthy living on a routine basis. 


And I do believe my message carries some credence in that I am not overweight and for the most part, commit myself to routine exercise and healthy eating standards.  No, I am not an Olympic athlete and do not pretend to be one and will certainly not bore you with my exercise plan.  Furthermore, I have a bit of a sweet tooth and enjoy the occasional cookie or two...or even three or yes, I have my own little issues to deal with.  But a guiding principle I try to follow as well as share with my patients (if they are old enough to understand) and their parents is the importance of moderation.  Too much of any one thing is probably not a good idea.


But one viewpoint I found interesting in the article is that some individuals may better connect with their health care providers when facing the same weight dilemmas...a sense of "I know what you are going through".  And while I do agree that it is human nature to gravitate to others of similar disposition, does someone feel the same motivation as when it comes from another who appears to be practicing what he/she is preaching?


And while I look forward to hearing the responses soon to follow, please realize I understand that one can be healthy and not look like a professional athlete.  I also realize, some of you...not me...are blessed with a metabolism where it doesn't matter what you eat as nothing will put the weight on.  But it doesn't change the fact that all of us should be following three simple principles...healthy eating, routine exercise, and a sense of moderation.


For those wanting to read the original article from the Los Angeles Times, here's a link...,0,5052150.story .



Dr. Jeremy

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Pianogirl, I couldn't agree more. Good to hear from you.
MoonBunny, I understand what you are saying. It might be easier to relate to someone who's been there at one time or another. Thanks.
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By mar4ela  Nov 04, 2009
Pianogirl, I couldn't agree more. Good to hear from you.
MoonBunny, I understand what you are saying. It might be easier to relate to someone who's been there at one time or another. Thanks.
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By mar4ela  Nov 04, 2009
I agree with Milly, better a good doctor in general, fat or thin, than a bad one. If I still have weight problems when I am a doctor-well at least I can better relate to a lot of patients.
By Shamrock593  Oct 05, 2009
My doctor is overweight, and openly admits his struggle with it. I've found him to be more approachable and less judgmental because of it. That said, society currently has a fixation with weight, often using concern for health as a politicall correct cover for a deeper prejudice.
A qualified profressional shouldn't be automatically discounted because of his personal appearance. Better a good doctor in general, fat or thin, than a bad one. Professionals are human too and being fat is not akin to torturing small animals or the like, lol.
By MillyS  Sep 18, 2009
Doctors should really be a good example for the people to believe on them. But I'm sure doctors also are not exempted with diseases in the environment, they are just more aware and doing preventions. Some of the most popular money idioms are widespread like "money talks" or "the love of money is the root of all evil" and so forth all offer a slice of wisdom about the nature or good use of money, and everyone could use a little extra cash or fast cash. (Of course, another idiom would be the money is simply a commodity that is used as a medium of exchange as the most commonly accepted value.) Whatever ">money idioms you subscribe to, payday loans can come in handy during an unexpected emergency.
By RodneyKFC  Aug 28, 2009
naw a fat DR dont matter, I used to weigh 350 im now at 170 thanks to a gastric bypass a fat DR is just human
By robertcalif  Aug 27, 2009
Hi Doc-

"People may doubt what you say, but they always believe what you do". I give near zero credibility to fat docs who tell me to be thin.
By dwlhollis  Aug 21, 2009
One thing to note here is that BMI is NOT a very good index of real body fat...unfortunately, it does not account for muscle weighing more than fat or bone structure. The man who actually invented this measure did not intend for it to be used in this manner.
By Caterina51  Aug 17, 2009
Oh, woops that last comment was for another page here-- sorry 'bout that. Can't find a way to delete it from here, if anyone knows, please let me know how.
By cyberscryber  Aug 15, 2009
And then there is this: Statement from the American College of Surgeons Regarding Recent Comments from President Obama

Is Obama really that misinformed? Or is he deliberately stirring the pot? I would sure like to know because if he's that ignorant, he's not very bright--being the president and all he should be able to get information on just about anything at any time, and therefore know his facts before he speaks. But if he's deliberately using hyperbole, then he is trying to get people angry at their doctors. So is he ignorant or is he a liar?
By cyberscryber  Aug 15, 2009
Nurses, too. I recently had a hospital stay and was amazed at how overweight and unhealthy many of them were, roughly half were smokers, and they all confessed to existing on mostly junk food. It was hard to take anything they said about taking care of yourself seriously.
By deanna2150  Aug 13, 2009
It would be great to find a doctor that will practice what they preach. Mine told me to quit smoking and then when I was leaving the office he was outside on a break smoking.
By jinkx50  Aug 13, 2009
Appleby, i agree with you, again! we hear all of this talk about weight, but little about health. the two aren't necessarily the same. i've seen thin people who are horrible eaters and never exercise, whose 'health' is frightening, and heavier people who regularly walk or do other exercise, eat balanced meals, etc.
another point i think many don't think about is that when something happens to us, such as an illness or injury, its not so bad to have a bit of 'fat to live off of', so to speak. the body stores fat for a reason.
i'm not put off by a doctor who is overweight. if they are morbidly obese, that's a different story. but weight by itself is NOT the end-all indicator of one's health. we need to quit being so judgemental on what we see on the outside. just as we can't see what's on the inside of the heart, we can't we see what's on the inside physically.
By tadlem  Aug 12, 2009
I like your article. It is so funny that you should have written it at a time when I am going to the doctor's today and she will again tell me that I have to lose weight. I have been struggling to lose and after I eat feel so bloated. Cracks me up when she is overweight and she is preaching to me about health, etc. etc. I want to say "hey you need to lose too, why aren't you losing. I have been coming here for two years and you could still lose 20 lbs". I'm polite and 62 years old - don't do that to doctors. I was on weight-watchers for 3 months. I was not bad but a few days for the entire three months. HONEST!!!!! I lost 6 lbs in 3 months. I went on this some years ago and lost 2 lbs per week. I am struggling. Not fun, but thanks for the article. It gave me a chuckle.
By suecalifornia  Aug 12, 2009
I always have found this subject fascinating because most doctors are hippocrates. As a younger female, I go into my gyno doc and he is lecturing me on my lifestyle of being healthy, not smoking, and limiting my sexual partners. Then the doc tells me he smokes weed in the hospital on his brake and most docs do there. He was also over weight and it felt as if he was feeling me up, not examining me at all! So yeah, it would be nice to find a doctor who did practice what they preached. To find a doctor like that is really hard to do.
By aprilandkids  Aug 12, 2009
A plumpish doctor in good health is also a good role model and reassuring to those of us that do not think the only proper shape is skeletal, stick figure flatness. I would not want to see a female doctor who does not look like an average woman, especially one who is surgically enhanced, because clearly she would be focused on the wrong things. My doctor reminds me that Marilyn Monroe was a Size 16 and would be called Morbidly Obese by a lot of todays health professionals.

My own preference is for a doctor who is happy with his or her body and in good health but not obsessed about it. In the long run we will all die, no matter what we do or do not do.
By Appleby  Aug 12, 2009
Fat doctors with chronic health conditions which prevent them from exercising could be beneficial for patients with similar problems as this mutual problem could facilitate the relationship as the patient would trust and identify with the doctor.

However for the rest of us fat doctors with no chronic health problems represent hypocrisy.

They are our health care providers and educators - therefore our role models - how ironical a fat doctor telling patients to exercise and not smoke - patients need to have inspiration to take responsibility to exercise and lead a life of moderation not overindulgence.
By sacred  Aug 11, 2009
Pianogirl, I couldn't agree more. Good to hear from you.
MoonBunny, I understand what you are saying. It might be easier to relate to someone who's been there at one time or another. Thanks.

Dr. Jeremy
By DrJeremy  Aug 11, 2009
I think that a lot of doctors who have never been overweight, cannot always relate to fat patients. I have 2 separate metabolic disorders and a messed-up spine, all of which makes it tough for me to lose weight (believe me, I *have* tried), at at this point, impossible to exercise. Even so, I will often get the 'body check' from doctors who I'm sure mean well, but come off as judgmental, negative, and condescending in their assumptions. Perhaps I should try shopping around and see if a heavier doctor would be a better fit for me; I doubt I would have less respect for a doctor who doesn't "practice what s/he preaches," as they probably CAN relate better to the discrimination and assholery of other people, if not the difficulty in enduring the constant 'body check' from others!
By MoonBunny999  Aug 11, 2009
I guess it's the feminist in me, but this whole uproar over Dr. Benjamin's weight when being appointed Surgeon General makes me see red because C. Everett Koop was a smoker and there was very little said about it when he was in office, and he wasn't exactly trim himself. What about all the overweight cops I see? How can they run down perpetrators in with those donut filled bellies bouncing around? Having said that, though, I do think we have an obligation to practice what we preach. I'm not athletic, but I follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly, not so much because I'm a medical professional, but just because I'm a Mom who wants to live a full life and play with my grandchildren someday. Plus, I'm happier when I feel healthy. It's just a better way to live, period.
By pianogirl  Aug 11, 2009
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