Physicians' belief about obesity causes impacts advice and care

February 8, 2013, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

How physicians view the causes of obesity may impact the advice they give their patients. The findings are from a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who compared the relationship between primary care physicians' beliefs about the causes of obesity with the frequency of nutritional counseling. They found that physicians who believed over consumption of food to be a major contributor to obesity were significantly more likely to counsel their patients to modify nutritional habits. The results are featured in the February 2013 issue of Preventive Medicine.

"Our study found that , who believed that was a very important cause of obesity had significantly greater odds of counseling their obese patients to reduce , avoid high-calorie ingredients when cooking and reduce sugar-sweetened . Similarly, physicians who associate sugar-sweetened as a primary cause of obesity were significantly more likely to advise their patients to cut back on sugary beverages such as soda and juices," said Sara Bleich, PhD, lead author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management. "Improved primary care physician education related to the causes of obesity may be a feasible strategy for increasing the frequency of nutritional counseling—particularly concrete dietary tips that primary care physicians can easily share with their patients."

Bleich, along with colleagues from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, analyzed a national cross-sectional Internet-based survey of 500 U.S. primary care physicians collected between February and March of 2011. Researchers assessed physician beliefs about the causes of obesity with the question, "How important is each of the following possible causes of obesity for your patients?" Possible causes included overconsumption of food, restaurant or fast food eating, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, genetics or family history and metabolic defect. For each cause, primary care physicians indicated whether it was very important, somewhat important, not very important, or not at all important. Nutritional counseling habits were assessed using the question, "How frequently do you provide each of the following types of nutritional counseling to your ?" Nutritional recommendations included reading nutritional labels to determine calorie or nutrition content, avoiding high-calorie ingredients when cooking, avoiding high calorie menu items when eating outside the home, reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and reducing portion size. For each nutritional recommendation, primary care physicians indicated whether they provided it very frequently, somewhat frequently, not very frequently or not at all frequently.

"Eighty-six percent of primary care physicians indicated that overconsumption of food is a very important cause of obesity, followed by 62 percent of physicians reporting that restaurant or fast food eating is a very important cause and 60 percent attributing consuming sugar sweetened beverages as a very important cause," noted Bleich. Few physicians reported genetics, family history or metabolic defect as an important cause of obesity.

"Do physician beliefs about causes of obesity translate into actionable issues on which physicians counsel their patients?" was written by Sara N. Bleich, Kimberly A. Gudzune, Wendy L. Bennett and Lisa A. Cooper.

Explore further: Physicians admit feeling under qualified and lacking necessary education to treat obesity

Related Stories

Physicians admit feeling under qualified and lacking necessary education to treat obesity

December 20, 2012
Your primary care physician may be your first choice for assistance with most health-related issues, but according a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, primary care physicians ...

Physician's weight may influence obesity diagnosis and care

January 26, 2012
A patient's body mass index (BMI) may not be the only factor at play when a physician diagnoses a patient as obese. According to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the diagnosis ...

Teens choose water when calorie count of sugary beverages is easier to understand

December 15, 2011
Thirsty? You may be more inclined to reach for plain old H2O if you knew how many calories are in sugar-sweetened beverages; this is according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Weight counseling declining among primary care doctors

January 28, 2013
(HealthDay)—From 1995-1996 to 2007-2008, the rate of weight counseling provided by primary care physicians (PCPs) decreased significantly, even for those patients with obesity and weight-related comorbidities such as diabetes ...

Recommended for you

Food for thought: How the brain reacts to food may be linked to overeating

July 19, 2018
The reason why some people find it so hard to resist finishing an entire bag of chips or bowl of candy may lie with how their brain responds to food rewards, leaving them more vulnerable to overeating.

Children are less likely to be obese if mothers stick to a healthy lifestyle

July 4, 2018
Children of mothers who follow a healthy lifestyle have a substantially lower risk of developing obesity than children of mothers who don't make healthy lifestyle choices, finds a study published in The BMJ.

Normalisation of 'plus-size' risks hidden danger of obesity, study finds

June 22, 2018
New research warns that the normalisation of 'plus-size' body shapes may be leading to an increasing number of people underestimating their weight—undermining efforts to tackle England's ever-growing obesity problem.

Nearly all adolescents have eating, activity or weight-related issues

June 22, 2018
A new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that nearly all young people have struggles with eating, activity and weight as they move from adolescence to adulthood.

Obesity plagues rural America

June 19, 2018
(HealthDay)—Country folk are being hit harder by the U.S. obesity epidemic than city dwellers, two new government studies show.

Binging, purging and fasting more common in overweight, obese young adults

June 12, 2018
Young adults who are overweight or obese are twice as likely as their leaner peers to binge and purge, use laxatives or diuretics, or force themselves to vomit as a means of controlling their weight, according to a new study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.