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Pediatricians lack confidence in managing obesity, and their own weight might be an important factor

CHAPEL HILL If North Carolina reflects what is happening nationally, most pediatricians across the country lack confidence in their ability to treat obesity, which is increasingly recognized as robbing children of physical vigor now and good health in later life, a new study shows.

The research, conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that only 12 percent of pediatricians surveyed felt effective in treating overweight children. Almost 40 percent, however, thought that they and their colleagues could handle the problem better if things were different.

A report on the findings appears in the current issue of the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics. Authors are Drs. Eliana M. Perrin, Kori B. Flower, Joanne Garrett and Alice S. Ammerman of the UNC schools of medicine and public health.

"When we compared their views on preventing obesity with their views on preventing sexually transmitted diseases, pediatricians felt more confident about the STDs," said Perrin, assistant professor of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine. "They said they felt much more confident about treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than treating obesity."

The investigation involved surveying by mail 738 N.C. pediatricians who belonged both to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the N.C. Pediatrics Society. The adjusted response rate was 71 percent.

"In the study, pediatricians' lack of confidence in managing obesity in children was most related to a scarcity of useful educational materials and other potentially modifiable factors," Perrin said. "In fact, pediatricians were able to identify many possibly helpful resources.

"We also found that 89 percent of the doctors said they were willing to take at least a small role in advocacy efforts to reduce childhood obesity," she said. "They told us that they may want to work on this big problem outside their offices more than inside. Now, we just have to figure out
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Contact: David Williamson
rdtokids@email.unc.edu
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
13-Jun-2005


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