Objective: The primary aim of this study was to evaluate among health care professionals their attitudes, perceived barriers, perceived skill level, and training needs in the management of child and adolescent obesity.
Methods: A national needs assessment consisting of a mailed questionnaire was conducted among a random sample of health care professionals. The survey was completed by 202 pediatricians, 293 pediatric nurse practitioners, and 444 registered dietitians.
Results: The majority of all respondents felt that childhood obesity was a condition that needs treatment (75%-93%), and affects chronic disease risk (76%-89%) and future quality of life (83%-93%). The most frequent barriers were lack of parent involvement, lack of patient motivation, and lack of support services. Registered dietitians were less likely to identify barriers to treatment compared with pediatricians or pediatric nurse practitioners. The most common areas of self-perceived low proficiency were in the use of behavioral management strategies, guidance in parenting techniques, and addressing family conflicts. All 3 groups expressed high interest in additional training on obesity management of children and adolescents, especially in the area of behavioral management strategies and parenting techniques. Those practitioners with >10 years of practice reported the greatest interest in training.
Conclusions: Pediatric practitioners view child and adolescent obesity with concern and feel that intervention is important. However, several important barriers interfere with treatment efforts and will need to be addressed. There is also a need for increased training opportunities related to obesity prevention and treatment. The results of this study provide directions and priorities for training, education, and advocacy efforts.