Doctors' belief about obesity 'influences advice'

11 February 2013

Doctors' advice on weight loss could be influenced by what they think the causes of obesity are, new research has found.

A team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US found GPs who believed eating too much food is a major contributor to obesity were significantly more likely to advise their patients to choose healthier eating habits.

The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, analysed a survey of 500 US doctors collected between February and March 2011.

They were asked two questions: "How important is each of the following possible causes of obesity for your patients?" and "How frequently do you provide each of the following types of nutritional counselling to your obese patients?"

Many dangerously obese people choose to seek private weight loss surgery. Forms of treatment include gastric balloon treatment and gastric band surgery.

The team found that doctors who believe overeating was a leading cause of obesity were more likely to advise obese patients to reduce portion sizes, avoid high-calorie ingredients when cooking and reduce sugar-sweetened beverage intake.

"Similarly, primary care physicians who associate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption as a primary cause of obesity were significantly more likely to advise their patients to cut back on sugary beverages such as soda and juices," explained Dr Sara Bleich, lead author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

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