The relationship between health professionals' weight status and attitudes towards weight management: a systematic review


IJ Norman, King's College London, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, James Clerk Maxwell Building, 57 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8WA, UK. E-mail:


This systematic review aims to address the question of whether health professionals' weight status is associated with attitudes towards weight management. Twelve eligible studies were identified from a search of the Cochrane Library, Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and three Chinese databases, which included 14 independent samples comprising a total of 10 043 respondents. Attitudes towards weight management were classified under eight attitude indicators. Quantitative synthesis of the findings of included studies showed that health professionals of normal weight were more likely to be more confident in their weight management practice, perceive fewer barriers to weight management and have more positive outcome expectations, have stronger role identity and more negative attitudes towards obese individuals than health professionals who were overweight or obese. However, there was no difference between overweight and non-overweight health professionals in their perceptions of the causes and outcomes of obesity. In addition, being female and having relevant knowledge and clinical experience of weight management appeared to predict positive attitudes towards obesity/obese patients and high self-efficacy in weight management, respectively. Future research should focus on prospectively theory-driven studies, and employ appropriately validated instruments and multivariate analyses to identify the relative contribution of weight status to attitudes towards weight management.