Family practice physicians' beliefs, attitudes, and practices regarding obesity

Am J Prev Med. 1987 Nov-Dec;3(6):339-45.


This study examined 318 family practice physicians' beliefs, attitudes, and practices regarding obese patients. Most physicians surveyed were aware of the health effects of obesity and that normal weight is important to the health of their patients. Beliefs, attitudes, and practices differed significantly based on the physicians' sex, weight, years in practice, and belief that counseling patients on weight loss is professionally gratifying and that most obese patients can lose significant amounts of weight. A notable number of respondents held negative or stereotypical attitudes toward obese patients (i.e., obese patients lack self-control, are lazy and sad). The most commonly recommended weight loss techniques were decreasing caloric consumption (92 percent), participating in Weight Watchers (84 percent), consulting a dietitian/nutritionist (76 percent), and aerobic exercise (75 percent). The two sources of weight control information most frequently cited were past experience (73 percent) and medical journals (71 percent). The results of this survey indicate that there is considerable room for improvement in the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of family physicians regarding obese patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk Factors
  • Stereotyping
  • Surveys and Questionnaires