• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. Apr 1991; 41(345): 147–150.
PMCID: PMC1371513

Management of weight problems and obesity: knowledge, attitudes and current practice of general practitioners.


A postal questionnaire was used to assess general practitioners' knowledge, attitudes and current practice of treatment regarding obesity and weight problems. Overall, 299 responses (75%) were received from general practitioners randomly selected from family practitioner committee lists in Portsmouth and Norwich. Currently 27% of the doctors were overweight and a further 3% obese. Many doctors (69%) had tried to lose weight at some time and 40% had been overweight and a further 12% obese in the past. The most popular methods used to educate overweight and obese patients were one to one counselling and giving out diet sheets and leaflets on healthy eating. The treatment advice to patients from the majority of doctors was to eat less in general (78%) (specifically to eat fewer calories 75%); to exercise (77%); or to attend a slimmers group (54%). Doctors thought that they were less effective than the media or the family in persuading overweight patients to lose weight. Doctors said they were prepared to counsel on weight reduction but felt they had little success in achieving weight loss in patients. Experience was ranked as the most important contributor to knowledge about managing obesity, and medical school was rated as least important. Further study is needed to discover how different practices and attitudes affect patient management and which ones are associated with greatest success. Medical schools and postgraduate centres could play a more important role in educating doctors about nutrition.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (900K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Weatherall R, Shaper AG. Overweight and obesity in middle-aged British men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1988 Mar;42(3):221–231. [PubMed]
  • DUBLIN LI. Relation of obesity to longevity. N Engl J Med. 1953 Jun 4;248(23):971–974. [PubMed]
  • Eliahou HE, Iaina A, Gaon T, Shochat J, Modan M. Body weight reduction necessary to attain normotension in the overweight hypertensive patient. Int J Obes. 1981;5 Suppl 1:157–163. [PubMed]
  • Noppa H. Body weight change in relation to incidence of ischemic heart disease and change in risk factors for ischemic heart disease. Am J Epidemiol. 1980 Jun;111(6):693–704. [PubMed]
  • Price JH, Desmond SM, Krol RA, Snyder FF, O'Connell JK. Family practice physicians' beliefs, attitudes, and practices regarding obesity. Am J Prev Med. 1987 Nov-Dec;3(6):339–345. [PubMed]
  • Crawford DA, Worsley A. Dieting and slimming practices of South Australian women. Med J Aust. 1988 Apr 4;148(7):325–331. [PubMed]
  • Brownell KD, Heckerman CL, Westlake RJ, Hayes SC, Monti PM. The effect of couples training and partner co-operativeness in the behavioral treatment of obesity. Behav Res Ther. 1978;16(5):323–333. [PubMed]
  • Francis J, Roche M, Mant D, Jones L, Fullard E. Would primary health care workers give appropriate dietary advice after cholesterol screening? BMJ. 1989 Jun 17;298(6688):1620–1622. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Garrow JS. Effect of exercise on obesity. Acta Med Scand Suppl. 1986;711:67–73. [PubMed]
  • Holmes MD, Zysow B, Delbanco TL. An analytic review of current therapies for obesity. J Fam Pract. 1989 May;28(5):610–616. [PubMed]
  • Maguire GP, Rutter DR. History-taking for medical students. I-Deficiencies in performance. Lancet. 1976 Sep 11;2(7985):556–558. [PubMed]
  • Prentice AM, Black AE, Coward WA, Davies HL, Goldberg GR, Murgatroyd PR, Ashford J, Sawyer M, Whitehead RG. High levels of energy expenditure in obese women. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986 Apr 12;292(6526):983–987. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lloyd JK. Nutrition and the training of doctors. Proc Nutr Soc. 1984 Jun;43(2):219–221. [PubMed]
  • Trichopoulou A, Tylianakis M, Katsouyanni K, Tzonou A. Nutritional knowledge of health professionals in Greece. Hygie. 1987 Mar;6(1):12–14. [PubMed]

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...