Obesity-related physician training has a long way to go

Fewer than half of physicians (44 percent) who participated in a recent survey from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said they've achieved success in helping obese patients lose weight.

Although 90 percent of the 500 primary care physicians surveyed said they felt competent in giving patients dietary counseling and 92 percent felt qualified to give exercise counseling, the researchers concluded that most PCPs would need more training and collaboration with other qualified professionals to improve their results, Medscape Today reported.

The research, published online in BMJ Open, noted that PCPs who graduated from medical school after 1991 reported slightly higher success than average, at 49 percent, compared to 36 percent who graduated earlier.

In addition, physicians overwhelmingly indicated that changes to practice design, such as adding body mass index as a fifth vital sign and including diet and exercise tips in patient records could improve care. However, there was no consensus as to which types of professionals were best equipped to help patients lose weight, although younger PCPs leaned toward nutritionists as the providers of choice.

Overall, the authors concluded that physicians' obesity-related education still has a long way to go.

"In order to begin improving obesity care, medical education should focus on enhancing those obesity-related skills PCPs feel most qualified to deliver as well as changing the composition of healthcare teams and practice resources," they stated.

To learn more:
- see the survey (.pdf) from BMJ Open
- read the story from Medscape Today
- see the statement from Johns Hopkins University

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