Submitted to: International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2005
Publication Date: 6/16/2005
Citation: Champagne, C., Ryan, D.H., Allen, R., Bogle, M.L. 2005. Attitudes, treatment practices, and public policy concerns regarding obesity: a survey of rural and urban Louisiana physicians [abstract]. Proceedings of International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. p. 162. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Purpose: The purpose of this study was to survey physician knowledge, attitudes and treatment practices regarding obesity and its control. Methods: Primary care physicians (PCPs) were surveyed in one urban and 13 rural parishes in Louisiana. Of 993 mailed questionnaires, 218 were returned. Of PCPs, 74% were male. Mean reported BMI was 26 (range 16.6-42.1) for males and 24.5 (range 17-42) for females. There were 55% urban, 84% Caucasian and 84% with annual income >$100,000. Results/findings: Almost 90% of PCPs asserted obesity as a major risk factor for chronic disease and the leading cause of preventable death and 84% agreed that obesity was a disease like hypertension or diabetes. However, 41% did not find current guidelines for obesity management practical or useful and 39% did not encourage the use of the Food Pyramid or Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Treatment practices for obesity rarely included use of meal replacements (2%). FDA-approved medications were never used by 32% and only routinely used by 15%. Strong agreement was voiced by 49% for policies targeting school snack concessions, by 44% for regulating food ads, and by only 18% for taxing unhealthy foods. Most striking was the physicians' lack of support for government involvement in obesity discrimination (6% strongly agreed) and extending disability to the obese (13% strongly agreed). Conclusions: Our findings point to the need for continuing education for PCPs in assessment and intervention for obesity. If physicians are to support policy measures to fight obesity, their supportive attitudes must be strengthened.