Tags: med | school | obesity | train

Study: Med Schools Fail Obesity Training

Monday, 05 Nov 2012 10:29 AM


Obesity is a leading national health problem, but few medical schools are providing adequate, effective training of new doctors to help them address weight issues in obese patients.
That’s the key conclusion of a new study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers who say more needs to be done to teach medical school students how to address weight problems that affect more than one-third of American adults and one-sixth of children.
"Medical students are surrounded by the same environment that everyone is in this country, a culture of idealized images of physical attractiveness in which thin is good and fat is bad," said Mara Vitolins, a Wake Forest professor of public health who led the study published in the journal Teaching and Learning in Medicine. "We just aren't doing a good enough job of teaching our students evidence-based methods of intervention and care for our obese patients."
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In an effort to gauge effectiveness of medical school training on obesity, Vitolins and her colleagues reviewed literature from the National Institutes of Health's PubMed database from 1966 through 2010. Of the 208 articles found, only five addressed ways to increase medical students' knowledge, attitudes, and skills regarding overweight and obesity treatment. What’s more, only two of them addressed medical student bias toward obese patients, and not a single study included obesity education over all four years of medical school.
"Our study shows clear gaps in medical education regarding obesity," Vitolins said. "Providing medical students with skills to address obesity is necessary to impact the national epidemic of obesity to decrease mortality and morbidity from chronic diseases related to excess weight.
"Our findings also highlight the need for medical school curricula to mitigate negative attitudes toward these patients, attitudes that may affect the care delivered."
To help address the lack of obesity-related education in medical schools, the Wake Forest Baptist team has published a downloadable teaching and learning program for nutrition, exercise and weight management.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death, and costs the national about $99 million annually in healthcare costs — comparable to the economic toll of cigarette smoking.


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Few medical schools provide adequate training of new doctors on how to help obese patients.
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2012-29-05
Monday, 05 Nov 2012 10:29 AM
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