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 primary care physicians, who believed that overeating was a very important cause of obesity had significantly greater odds of counseling their obese patients to reduce portion sizes, avoid high-calorie ingredients when cooking and reduce sugar-sweetened beverage intake. Similarly, primary care physicians who associate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption 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?" P
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Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health