Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences


Public Health


Childhood obesity is a persistent problem in the United States and can result in many health problems in adulthood. Primary Care Providers (PCPs) play a crucial role in treating obesity by providing family-based behavioral weight management counseling and by educating patients and their families about the health concerns associated with obesity. Despite the significant role that PCPs play within treating childhood obesity, little is known about PCPs’ perceptions of their efficacy in treating this condition. Through individual semi-structured interviews, this study’s aims were to obtain a greater understanding of PCPs’: 1) perceptions of the education and training they received to treat childhood obesity; 2) perceptions of their abilities and efficacy in applying this knowledge to treat childhood obesity; and 3) approach to initiating conversations about obesity with families and strategies they employ to motivate families to take action about their child’s weight status. Seven physicians were interviewed in person and one was interviewed via phone. The interview from six physicians were recorded, transcribed and then analyzed for common themes. This prospective, qualitative study established three key themes about PCPs’ perceptions of childhood obesity (1) A well-established rapport and clear information about obesity percentiles are crucial to start conversations about childhood obesity, (2) A toxic environment is a major obstacle in the treatment of childhood obesity and (3) Physicians feel competent in providing diet/nutrition counseling and exercise counseling. Furthermore, this research identified potential improvements such as more patient-centered care that may help to improve treatment and related health outcomes.

Included in

Public Health Commons