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Clinician uptake of obesity-related drug information: a qualitative assessment using continuing medical education activities

Ingrid Kohlstadt1* and Gerold Wharton2

Author affiliations

1 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Human Nutrition, 198 Prince George St, Annapolis MD 21401, Maryland, USA

2 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Pediatric Therapeutics, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:44  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-44

Published: 10 April 2013



Medications necessary for disease management can simultaneously contribute to weight gain, especially in children. Patients with preexisting obesity are more susceptible to medication-related weight gain.

How equipped are primary care practitioners at identifying and potentially reducing medication-related weight gain? To inform this question germane to public health we sought to identify potential gaps in clinician knowledge related to metabolic adverse drug effects of weight gain.


The study analyzed practitioner responses to the pre-activity questions of six continuing medical education (CME) activities from May 2009 through August 2010.


The 20,705 consecutive, self-selected respondents indicated varied levels of familiarity with adverse metabolic effects and psychiatric indications of atypical antipsychotics. Correct responses were lower than predicted for drug indications pertaining to autism (−17% predicted); drug effects on insulin resistance (−62% predicted); chronic disease risk in mental illness (−34% predicted); and drug safety research (−40% predicted). Pediatrician knowledge scores were similar to other primary care practitioners.


Clinicians’ knowledge of medication-related weight gain may lead them to overestimate the benefits of a drug in relation to its metabolic risks. The knowledge base of pediatricians appears comparable to their counterparts in adult medicine, even though metabolic drug effects in children have only become prevalent recently.

Medication effects on appetite; Insulin resistance; Drug-related weight gain; Mental illness as a risk factor for obesity; Adverse metabolic drug effects; Drug safety research; Nutrition knowledge of primary care practitioners