Background: Trainee nurses, doctors and dietitians will direct the future of obesity treatment and prevention. To do so effectively, they must have sufficient knowledge regarding the health risks associated with obesity and feel that part of their professional role is to counsel obese patients regarding these risks.
Methods: An online survey collected data on professional roles, training needs and the Obesity Risk Knowledge-10 (ORK-10) scale from 38 dietetic, 88 nursing (Diploma), 74 nursing (Masters) and 389 medical students.
Results: Final-year dietetic students demonstrated higher ORK-10 scale scores than final-year nursing (Dip), nursing (MSc) and medical students (P < 0.001). The majority of students agreed that part of their profession's role was to counsel obese patients about the health risks associated with obesity. Dietetic students were more satisfied with the teaching they had received than each of the other student groups (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Future health care professionals recognize their responsibility to communicate health risk information to obese patients. Dietetic students have a sound knowledge base to support them in this. Educators of trainee nurses and doctors may like to respond to their students' lower levels of knowledge and desire for more training.