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obesity
primary care physicians
weight loss efforts
calorie counts
exercise programs
good success
Primary Doctors Lack The Confidence To Treat Obesity Reveals A Recent Survey
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Primary Doctors Lack the Confidence to Treat Obesity Reveals A Recent Survey

According to a new study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, primary doctors are not quite comfortable or confident in their abilities to treat obesity, preferring to send patients to specialists that are more suited to their care. In the survey, which was recently published in the online journal BMJ, less than half of the physicians interviewed felt that they understood obesity or how to treat it well enough to call themselves "competent". The same number felt they were "comfortable" treating those patients.

The survey dictated competence as those who were able to help the patient to lose weight and to keep it off. Newer doctors rated themselves as better at handling obese patients than older doctors perhaps because some medical schools are recognizing the need for more comprehensive focus on those problems. Most primary care doctors that graduated as recently as a decade ago were only given very basic training in obesity. As the population gets larger, the need for more training has become more evident.

Many people are referred to bariatric doctors by their primary care physicians. In addition, people are often referred to as nutritionists and dieticians by their doctors. But, in some areas, these specialists are so busy that they are impossible to get appointments for. In other areas, especially remote, rural areas, there are no bariatric doctors or clinics and very few nutritionists to see at all.

Most people fare better with their weight loss efforts when they are given direction in both nutrition and exercise programs from a professional. Support groups and other tools are also beneficial to help with concerns like calorie counts and tracking. Several studies have shown that people are better off with at least some degree of support and accountability with very few having good success by going it alone.

In the Johns Hopkins study, the doctors found that they were unable to accurately and adequately explain the weight charts to their patients. That was not to suggest that the doctors did not understand them but rather did not have the training in how to get the information to the patient in a way that was reassuring but still showed how important weight loss efforts were.

On the part of the patient, the problem was not always listening to the doctor but making sense of numbers including their BMI and waist to hip ratio. Focusing on good nutrition rather than fad diets was also a major concern for most patients as well.


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