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J Paediatr Child Health. 2006 Apr;42(4):206-11.

Are general practitioners equipped to detect child overweight/obesity? Survey and audit.

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Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, The University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Australia.



To ascertain the extent to which general practitioners (GPs) routinely weigh, measure and calculate body mass index (BMI) in children, and to assess the accuracy and accessibility of their anthropometric equipment.


A convenience sample of 34 GPs from 29 primary care family medical practices in Melbourne, Australia, completed a questionnaire regarding their routine anthropometric practice for 5-10-year-old children and perceived role in managing childhood overweight and obesity. Practice audits (April-June 2002) assessed the accuracy and accessibility of anthropometric equipment.


Forty-four per cent of GPs reported regularly weighing children; 38% regularly measured children's height. Only one regularly calculated children's BMI. Formal training in child anthropometry and servicing of anthropometric equipment was rare. The majority of equipment was accessible. Stadiometers on average measured the height of a 'short' pole (true height 92.68 cm) as 92.52 cm (SD = 0.8), and measured the height of a 'tall' pole (true height 157.64 cm) as 157.55 cm (SD = 0.9). On average, calibration weights of 20 kg and 80 kg were recorded as 19.7 kg (SD = 0.6) and 79.2 kg (SD = 1.5) respectively. Despite these shortcomings, these GPs generally felt they played a key role in managing overweight in children.


Self-reported practice by these GPs falls well short of 2003 National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines recommending bi-annual measuring of all children in the primary care setting. The variability of anthropometric equipment audited could result in widely discrepant BMI values, leading to serious misclassification of many children's weight status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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