Obesity management and continuing medical education in primary care: results of a Swiss survey

BMC Fam Pract. 2011 Dec 22;12:140. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-12-140.


Background: The worldwide increase in obesity is becoming a major health concern. General practitioners (GPs) play a central role in managing obesity. We aimed to examine Swiss GPs self-reported practice in diagnosis and treatment of obesity with a special focus on the performance of waist measurement.

Methods: A structured self-reported questionnaire was mailed to 323 GPs recruited from four urban physician networks in Switzerland. Measures included professional experience, type of practice, obesity-related continuing medical education (CME) and practice in dealing with obesity such as waist measurement. We assessed the association between the performance of waist measurement and obesity-related CME by multivariate ordered logistic regression controlling for GP characteristics as potential confounders.

Results: A total of 187 GPs responded to the questionnaire. More than half of the GPs felt confident in managing obesity. The majority of the GPs (73%) spent less than 4 days in the last 5 years on obesity-related CME. More than half of GPs gave advice to reduce energy intakes (64%), intakes of high caloric and alcoholic drinks (56%) and to increase the physical activity (78%). Half of the GPs seldom performed waist measurement and documentation. The frequency of obesity-related CME was independently associated with the performance of waist measurement when controlled for GPs' characteristics by multivariate ordered logistic regression.

Conclusions: The majority of GPs followed guideline recommendations promoting physical activity and dietary counselling. We observed a gap between the increasing evidence for waist circumference assessment as an important measure in obesity management and actual clinical practice. Our data indicated that specific obesity-related CME might help to reduce this gap.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnosis*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland
  • Waist Circumference