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Canadian dietitians’ views and practices regarding obesity and weight management

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Abstract Objective 

To provide insight into Canadian dietitians’ attitudes and practices regarding obesity and weight management. Design 

Cross-sectional mail survey of a stratified random sample of members of Canadian dietetic associations. Subjects 

A total of 514 dietitians (74% of those surveyed), 350 (69%) of whom actively counselled overweight/obese clients. Measurements 

Participants received a questionnaire to assess dietitians’ attitudes regarding obesity and overweight, views regarding their role in weight management, counselling practices, and the criteria used to judge success. Demographic variables were collected. Results 

Most dietitians believed that obesity contributes to morbidity and mortality, and that small weight losses produced important health benefits. However, 80% agreed that health indicators other than weight loss should be the focus of obesity management, and 55% specifically recommended that clients not weigh themselves. Instead, weight management was promoted by recommending healthy eating and increased physical activity. Three-quarters agreed that they are the profession best trained to manage obesity but two-thirds believed their time would be better spent preventing rather than managing obesity. Dietitians most valued education received from on-the-job support and mentoring from other dietitians. Participants reported wanting to learn more about motivational and behavioural modification counselling techniques. Conclusions 

Canadian dietitians follow a lifestyle approach to weight management. Studies are required to formally assess the effectiveness of various aspects of this approach.

Keywords: attitudes; dietitians; obesity; practice; weight management

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2004

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