This Week in Research: Mushrooms for Weight Loss; Doctors Don’t Bond with Overweight Patients

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So often, studies about weight loss offer contradictory or impractical advice. Not so this recent research out of Johns Hopkins, which offers an incredibly simple formula:  eating mushrooms instead of meat for one meal a day helped participants lose weight (and keep it off) and reduce body fat.

For the study, researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health asked 73 obese adults, mostly women in their 40s, to swap out meat for one cup of mushrooms once a day for a year. Mushrooms were chosen because they’re less energy-dense (read:  lower in calories) and lower in fat than meat, but are able to produce a similar feeling of fullness and a comparable “meaty” flavor profile. (Here is one of my favorite mushroom recipes, in case you feel like trying this out.) Participants lost an average of 7 pounds over the course of the year, and reported a lower BMI, a smaller waist circumference (by 2.6 inches!), and a lower total body fat percentage. The study was funded by the Mushroom Council.

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One side effect of the mushroom diet might be surprising — a better relationship with your doctor. According to a small study also out of Johns Hopkins, doctors are less likely to bond with their overweight patients — a lack of empathy that can have wide-ranging effects.

By studying 39 primary care physicians and 208 of their patients, Kimberly Gudzune and her team found that the doctors were significantly more likely to express empathy, concern, and understanding to their normal weight patients than with their overweight or obese patients. (Weight did not appear to play a role in the quantity or quality of medical advice, however.)

“I hear from patients all the time about how they resent feeling judged negatively because of their weight. Yes, doctors need to be medical advisors, but they also have the opportunity to be advocates to support their patients through changes in their lives,” Gudzune says. “Patients want information and treatment, but they also need the emotional support and attention that can help them through the challenges that accompany weight loss and the establishment of a healthy lifestyle.”



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