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Physician Beliefs About Obesity Impact Nutritional Counseling

Beliefs about the causes of obesity linked to counseling provided for obese patients

FRIDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians' beliefs about diet-related causes of obesity impact the nutritional counseling they provide for their patients, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in Preventive Medicine.

Sara N. Bleich, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a national, Internet-based survey of 500 U.S. primary care physicians (PCPs) to assess the correlation between their beliefs about the causes of obesity and the frequency of nutritional counseling.

The researchers found that those PCPs who considered overconsumption of food to be a very important cause of obesity were significantly more likely to counsel patients to decrease portion sizes (odds ratio [OR], 3.40) and to avoid high-calorie ingredients in cooking (OR, 2.16). The odds of counseling patients to avoid high-calorie menu items outside the home were significantly increased among physicians who believed that restaurant/fast food eating was a very important cause of obesity (OR, 1.93). Physicians who believed that sugar-sweetened beverages were a very important cause of obesity were significantly more likely to counsel their obese patients to decrease consumption of these beverages (OR, 5.99).

"In conclusion, physician beliefs about the causes of obesity translate into actionable issues on which physicians counsel their patients," the authors write. "Improved PCP education about the causes of obesity may be a feasible strategy for increasing the frequency of nutritional counseling, particularly concrete dietary tips that PCPs can easily share with their patients."

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