Although physicians' busy lifestyles make it difficult to follow some of the health advice they preach, a new Gallup report reveals that doctors are, by and large, healthier than the rest of the U.S. workforce, including nurses.
According to Gallup's interviews with more than 1,900 physicians and more than 7,100 nurses over eight months:
- Less than 5 percent of physicians said they were smokers versus 15 percent of nurses
- Two-thirds of doctors said they ate healthy foods all day the previous day, compared with 59 percent of nurses
- 13 percent of physicians reported they were obese versus 25 percent of nurses and employed adults
- Physicians' lower rates of obesity translated into lower incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma
- 6 percent of physicians reported they were diagnosed with some form of cancer, higher than any other group, possibly due to lifestyle factors, higher vigilance for screening or knowing the warning signs
The bottom line, according to Gallup, is that physicians play an important role in helping others understand how to lead healthy lives. Thus, as the United States continues to struggle with high levels of obesity and related chronic disease, this research reveals that most doctors are well-positioned to teach their patients how to maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk for chronic disease.
That's good news, considering that the health and well-being of physicians has been a growing concern for healthcare experts, Kaiser Health News reported, adding that groups such as the American Medical Association have been working to develop tools to reduce physician burnout, suicide and stress-related ailments, as well as set a good example for patients.
Nonetheless, physicians may have to use creative strategies to fit regular exercise into their busy, high-stress schedules, Jennifer Frank, a family physician in private practice in northeastern Wisconsin, noted in a recent post for Physicians Practice. She recommended that doctors try video-game based exercise or workout DVDs for their convenience or enroll in a fitness class in which they will feel accountable to attend.