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Keywords:

  • general practitioners;
  • health professionals;
  • management;
  • prevention

Abstract

Objectives: To document general practitioners’ (GPs) attitudes and practices regarding the prevention and management of overweight and obesity.

Research Methods and Procedures: A cross-sectional survey of a randomly selected sample of 1500 Australian GPs was conducted, of which 752 questionnaires were returned. The measures included views on weight management, definitions of success, views regarding the usefulness of drugs, approaches to and strategies recommended for weight management, and problems and frustrations in managing overweight and obesity.

Results: GPs view weight management as important and feel they have an important role to play. Although they consider themselves to be well prepared to treat overweight patients, they believe that they have limited efficacy in weight management and find it professionally unrewarding. GPs view the assessment of a patient's dietary and physical activity habits and the provision of dietary and physical activity advice as very important. The approaches least likely to be considered important and/or least likely to be practiced were those that would support the patient in achieving and maintaining lifestyle change.

Discussion: There remains considerable opportunity to improve the practice of GPs in their management of overweight and obesity. Although education is fundamental, it is important to acknowledge the constraints of the GPs’ existing working environment.