French pediatricians' knowledge, attitudes, beliefs towards and practices in the management of weight problems in children

Health Policy. 2009 Jul;91(2):195-203. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2008.12.005. Epub 2009 Jan 21.


A representative sample of 611 French pediatricians was interviewed on their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs towards and practices regarding childhood obesity through a 39-item Likert format questionnaire. A vast majority of the respondents regarded obesity as an illness (86.4%), 70.2% were aware that without any treatment an obese child has a high risk to remain obese in adulthood, 84% reported that managing obesity is part of their responsibility in the routine practice and 89.3% affirmed to systematically inform parents of obese children on health risks associated with obesity. At the same time, 82.4% were convinced that managing obesity is bound to fail and only 46.5% that it is professionally gratifying. However, doctors who followed a vocational training dedicated to obesity felt themselves more efficient in managing childhood obesity (p<0.01), those who knew the national recommendations were also less likely to report that the management of childhood obesity leads to a failure (p<0.05). Probably one of the main result of our study concerns doctors' perception of the relative impact of the different etiologic factors of obesity. Beside sedentary life, poor eating behavior, lack of parental concern and heredity which are cited by more than three-fourth of the pediatricians, an economic situation more and more insecure and a food industry increasingly more powerful are reported for the first time by doctors themselves, respectively by 59.9% and 60.8% of them, to kill the goodwill of health professionals. These findings reinforce the idea that the solution to the obesity problem does not lie just within the doctor's office and stress the need for prompt regulatory actions to curb obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • France
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires