Many Primary Care Physicians Not Addressing Weight Issues

Fewer than 50 percent of primary care physicians regularly record BMI for adults or children

FRIDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- A large number of primary care physicians (PCPs) do not offer adequate counseling for weight status for adults or children, according to two studies published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Ashley Wilder Smith, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues examined clinical practices of PCPs who treat adults regarding overweight and obesity. PCP evaluations, counseling, referrals, and follow-up of diet, physical activity, and weight control of adult patients were measured. Fewer than half (49 percent) of PCPs reported regularly recording body mass index (BMI), and fewer than 50 percent offered specific advice on diet, physical activity, or weight control. Fewer than 10 percent consistently referred patients for further management and fewer than 22 percent systematically tracked weight-related behaviors over time. PCPs were significantly more likely to recommend physical activity than diet or weight control.

Terry T-K Huang, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues surveyed pediatricians and family practice physicians for their evaluation, counseling, and management of diet, physical activity, and weight status among pediatric patients. Fewer than 50 percent of PCPs regularly recorded BMI in children, and only 18 percent referred children for further evaluation or management. Pediatricians were significantly more likely than family physicians to evaluate weight status and offer behavioral counseling.

"Physicians have substantial room for improvement in assessing weight status in the primary care setting," Huang and colleagues write.

Abstract - Smith
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Abstract - Huang
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