The study noted that overweight providers were "associated with increased frequency of counseling patients regarding exercise."
Indeed, physicians who are overweight often can be more effective at counseling patients because they know what they are going through, Jackson says.
"If you are trying to go out there to exercise everyday you are going to know what it's like to have barriers, you can understand where they are coming from by relating and understanding," she said.
Previous studies on smoking also showed that physicians who smoked and who considered quitting themselves were more likely to counsel patients on smoking cessation, Jackson noted.
Too often, however, as the study suggests, physicians "don't have the time or training to be effective at counseling patients," Jackson says. The study noted that 12.7% of trainees and 23.5% of attending physicians "agreed that they had received adequate training in counseling on diet."
Jackson says more work needs to be done to understand the issues underlying physician and payment communication regarding exercise and healthy eating.
"There are a lot of physicians who have similar issues to patients regarding diet and exercise," she says. "We can acknowledge this to patients and recognize that we know it's not easy to change behaviors."