Management of obesity: a challenge for medical training and practice

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Jan;17(1):107-13. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.478. Epub 2008 Oct 30.


Health-care providers are in a unique position to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices. However, lifestyle modification counseling is a complex task, made even more so by the cultural and socioeconomic diversity of patient populations. The objective of this study is to evaluate the prevalence and predictors of attending and physician-in-training weight control counseling in an urban academic internal medicine clinic serving a unique low-income multiethnic high-risk population. In 2006, patients (n = 256) from the Associates in Internal Medicine clinic (Division of General Medicine at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY) were recruited and completed a questionnaire, which assessed demographic variables, health conditions, access to health-care services, physician weight control counseling, and weight loss attempts. Seventy-nine percent of subjects were either overweight or obese. Only 65% of obese subjects were advised to lose weight. Attending physicians were more likely than physicians-in-training to counsel subjects on weight control (P < 0.01). Factors that were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with different types of weight control counseling included obesity, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, female gender, nonblack race, college education, married status, and attending physician. Subjects advised to lose weight were more likely to report an attempt to lose weight (P < 0.01). Rates of weight control counseling among physicians are suboptimal, particularly among physicians-in-training. Training programs need to promote effective clinical obesity prevention and treatment strategies that address socioeconomic, linguistic, and cultural factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Counseling
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Education, Medical*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics