Obesity Prevention and Treatment Practices of U.S. Obstetrician–Gynecologists

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To describe obesity prevention and treatment practices of U.S. obstetrician–gynecologists.


A cross-sectional survey was mailed to 1,806 practicing members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in February-April 2005.


Of the 900 respondents who returned questionnaires, 82% reported using body mass index (BMI) to assess obesity; 80% reported counseling patients about weight control and 84% about physical activity “most of the time” or “often.” Most reported counseling patients about diet; the most frequently recommended dietary strategies were changing eating patterns, limiting intake of specific foods, and controlling portion size. About 27% reported referring their patients for behavioral therapy “most of the time” or “often,” and 35% reported ever prescribing weight loss medications to obese patients. More than 85% counseled patients about pregnancy weight gain, and 64% used the patients’ prepregnancy BMI to modify their recommendations “most of the time” or “often.” Respondents who completed their residency after 1996 were more likely to use patients’ BMI to screen for obesity than those who finished earlier. Respondents who believed that they could help their patients lose weight (44%) were more likely to counsel their patients to do so (P<.001).


A majority of obstetrician–gynecologists appear to use BMI to screen for obesity and to counsel their patients about weight control, diet, and physical activity. Many, however, do not prescribe weight loss medications or refer patients to behavioral weight loss therapy. Obstetrician–gynecologists who believe they can help patients lose weight are more likely to follow recommendations for the treatment of obesity.



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