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J Grad Med Educ. 2013 Sep;5(3):405-11. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-12-00289.1.

Overweight physicians during residency: a cross-sectional and longitudinal study.



Resident physicians are at risk for increasing weight status given their changes in environment, resources, and stress level.


To describe body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, eating habits, and physical activity during postgraduate training and to compare the findings to data for nationally matched controls.


This was a combined cross-sectional study and longitudinal cohort, with a comparison to matched controls in 2 academic hospital centers in the eastern and western United States. BMI and blood pressure were objectively measured, and an eating and exercise habits recall was obtained for 375 enrolled medical and surgical residents (93 longitudinally) at the onset of each postgraduate year (PGY) in 2006, 2007, and 2008.


Nearly half (43%) of overweight residents described themselves as normal weight. Residents were more likely to be overweight (BMI ≥25) at the beginning of PGY-3 than at the beginning of PGY-1 (49% versus 30%; odds ratio 2.26; 95% confidence interval 1.19-4.28). The average BMI of residents at PGY-1 was lower than that of their matched controls, but the magnitude of this difference decreased with increasing PGY (P  =  .02).


Overweight status is underacknowledged by overweight residents and increases by PGY of training. These changes differ significantly from that of controls and may affect overweight physicians' long-term health.

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