Childhood obesity: how do Australian general practitioners feel about managing this growing health problem?

Aust J Prim Health. 2011;17(1):60-5. doi: 10.1071/PY10041.


General practitioners (GPs) are ideally placed to identify and treat childhood obesity, but its prevalence continues to rise and evidence for effective GP interventions is lacking. Further analysis of the barriers to effective identification and management of childhood obesity is warranted. This survey aimed to explore how Queensland GPs feel about managing the growing problem of childhood obesity. A cross-sectional survey was sent to a random sample of 573 Queensland GPs about perceptions of diagnosis and management of childhood obesity. A total of 30% of GPs responded (n=170). The main perceived obstacles to identification of childhood obesity were uncertainty about definition criteria and how to calculate body mass index, and lack of access to body mass index percentile charts. The main perceived obstacles in managing childhood obesity were lack of financial incentive, time constraints, lack of health system support and parental resistance. Only 22% of respondents indicated awareness of the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for management of obese children and 92% had never used any formal clinical guidelines in assessment or management of childhood obesity. Addressing these barriers to identification of childhood obesity by GPs may facilitate more effective management. Strategies include greater emphasis on this issue in general practice training, financial incentives for diagnosis and management, incorporating clinical management guidelines into medical software, and increasing allied and community health support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • General Practice*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Queensland