Medical Schools Neglect Obesity

November 26, 2012 — In a study published in Teaching and Learning in Medicine, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that few programs training doctors today offer "adequate, effective" training in how their students can help patients with obesity.

Medical schools qualified if they offered medical education on treating obesity and also evaluated the program to ensure training was effective. Only five medical education programs in the U.S. earned that distinction, and none of the schools offered training that lasted throughout the four years of medical school.

"We just aren’t doing a good enough job of teaching our students evidence-based methods of intervention and care,” Mara Vitolins, professor of Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest Baptist, said in an interview about the research. "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." Along with better clinical skills, she noted that reducing negative attitudes toward patients with obesity will prepare medical students to deliver better care.

Read the article in the Winston-Salem Journal here, a subsequent editorial here, and the study abstract here.