Intended for healthcare professionals

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Practice What your patient is thinking

Why there’s no point telling me to lose weight

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 20 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:g6845

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I like the way this author tells their story about a difficult and long standing problem. Unfortunately doctors are trained to think a certain way. They also think like many other people who judge others before understanding how the person they are judging feels about their problem. It is easy to find fault or condemn others before we understand how they cope with what they have to try and cope with. We're all guilty of this at times.

I can relate to this author's dilemma, not with a weight issue, but with a drug issue I had when I had a heart attack several years ago and was put on statin drugs, the darling of the industry protocol. I couldn't tolerate this class of drug at all. I was made to feel as if I would bring on another heart attack if I didn't take their beloved drugs. After three years I refused to take them because I had so many side-effects. Twelve years later and I've never been healthier!

Like the author, I find it very interesting and disconcerting that doctors have been brainwashed to believe they have the answers to everything that they see is wrong with their patient.

The author with the weight problem is obviously doing very well despite carrying extra weight. Anyone who can bike ride and manage to put forth the effort to also having a healthy lifestyle is doing the best they can do for themselves. Why do doctors not praise what their patients do when they take the initiative to manage their health in ways other than what the doctor thinks is right for them?

So doctors: don't tell the patient what to do, listen to the patient and praise them for what they've accomplished without having to please you and the directives you are guided by. We know medical guidelines change, that drugs are often not good for patients, that they often cause more harm than good, and on and on it goes!

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 January 2015
Elizabeth A. Rankin
Retired Nurse
Chatham, ON. Canada