Foundational knowledge regarding childhood obesity: A cross-sectional study of medical students

Document Type


Publication Date



© 2019 The Author(s). Background: Documentation and diagnosis of childhood obesity in primary care is poor and providers are often unfamiliar with guidelines. This lack of knowledge may be attributed to insufficient training in medical school and residency; however, no studies have evaluated medical students' knowledge of recommendations. Methods: We distributed a modified version of the Physician Survey of Practice on Diet, Physical Activity, and Weight Control to medical students at a single university. Descriptive analyses assessed knowledge and attitudes of childhood obesity and diabetes. Results: Of the 213 participating students, 74% indicated being unfamiliar with obesity screening recommendations. Few correctly identified BMI percentile cut-points for child overweight (21.2%), obesity (23.7%), and normal weight (29.4%). They reported screening glucose 4.5 years earlier in patients with risk factors compared to those without (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Although students recognized the need for earlier diabetes screening in children with risk factors, we determined that overall, student knowledge of obesity-related preventative care was inadequate.