Dear Ann Landers, You recently published a letter from a reader who was angry that four different physicians didn't tell her she could lower her blood pressure if she lost some weight. The woman wanted to know why her doctors failed to mention this to her. I am a physician who has been in practice for several years, and I would like to respond to her question.
Long ago, I learned that if a physician wants to drive a patient out of his (or her) office permanently, there are two magic sentences that will do it. One is: "I think you should see a psychiatrist." The other is: "You need to lose some weight." I have a file in my office with notes from fat former patients (and their fat relatives) cussing me out royally because I had the unmitigated gall to broach the subject of dropping some pounds.
I no longer tell my patients they need to lose weight. They already know it. I only hope they occasionally look in the mirror. -- Doctor in Bowling Green, Ky.
Dear Doctor, Sorry you have been a victim of the "kill the messenger" syndrome. I hope it will not discourage you and other physicians from telling your patients what they need to hear. To do otherwise would be abdicating your responsibility. Perhaps instead of lecturing, a better approach might be to give (or mail) the patient a diet and say, "I hope this will help you have a healthier and happier life."