, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 677-679
Date: 01 Dec 2001

Medical School Curricula do not Address Obesity as a Disease

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Background: Obesity and its associated comorbidities have become an epidemic. However, medical school curricula do not address obesity as a disease. We undertook this study to assess medical students' knowledge about obesity before and after exposure to bariatric surgery. Methods: A 10-item questionnaire that assesses knowledge of etiology,comorbidities, diagnosis, and management of obesity was mailed to all 201 2nd and 3rd year medical students enrolled in USF between 1999-2000. Data are mean ± sem. Means were compared using t-test; p ≤ 0.05 was significant. Results: The overall response rate was 80%. The 3rd yr students who rotated on bariatric surgery (n=24) answered correctly more questions than 55 students who did not rotate (90±2% vs 79±2%, p=0.048). These differences were mainly noted in questions related to clinical management of obesity (p=0.04). There were no significant differences among responses from 2nd yr students (n=81) and the subset of 3rd yr students (n=55) who did not rotate through bariatric surgery. Conclusions: Medical students' knowledge about obesity is significantly improved by rotation on a bariatric surgery program and not during rotations on other clinical disciplines. Medical school curricula should be changed to reflect the growing epidemic of obesity and enhance students' knowledge about obesity as a disease.