Training in childhood obesity management in the United States: a survey of pediatric, internal medicine-pediatrics and family medicine residency program directors

BMC Med Educ. 2010 Feb 17;10:18. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-10-18.


Background: Information about the availability and effectiveness of childhood obesity training during residency is limited.

Methods: We surveyed residency program directors from pediatric, internal medicine-pediatrics (IM-Peds), and family medicine residency programs between September 2007 and January 2008 about childhood obesity training offered in their programs.

Results: The response rate was 42.2% (299/709) and ranged by specialty from 40.1% to 45.4%. Overall, 52.5% of respondents felt that childhood obesity training in residency was extremely important, and the majority of programs offered training in aspects of childhood obesity management including prevention (N = 240, 80.3%), diagnosis (N = 282, 94.3%), diagnosis of complications (N = 249, 83.3%), and treatment (N = 242, 80.9%). However, only 18.1% (N = 54) of programs had a formal childhood obesity curriculum with variability across specialties. Specifically, 35.5% of IM-Peds programs had a formal curriculum compared to only 22.6% of pediatric and 13.9% of family medicine programs (p < 0.01). Didactic instruction was the most commonly used training method but was rated as only somewhat effective by 67.9% of respondents using this method. The most frequently cited significant barrier to implementing childhood obesity training was competing curricular demands (58.5%).

Conclusions: While most residents receive training in aspects of childhood obesity management, deficits may exist in training quality with a minority of programs offering a formal childhood obesity curriculum. Given the high prevalence of childhood obesity, a greater emphasis should be placed on development and use of effective training strategies suitable for all specialties training physicians to care for children.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Medicine*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States