Category: Obesity/Nutrition

Monitor: 7


Thursday, Apr 25
1:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Objective :

Physicians are encouraged to advocate for healthy lifestyles, with the goal of influencing their patients’ behavior. We aimed to evaluate the knowledge of physicians regarding nutrition and exercise, and their own behavior.

Methods :

An electronic survey was sent to physicians in the Department of Medicine of a large academic hospital. The survey assessed the participants’ demographics, comorbidities, perceptions, knowledge and behavior related to healthy lifestyles. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and the χ2 test was used for group comparisons.

Results :

The survey was sent to 331 eligible physicians of which 297(90%) responded. Majority of the respondents were women (55%), white (70%), and 65% were ≤ 44 years old. Almost 50% reported being overweight.

Only 35% of the participants responded that they ate ≥2 servings of vegetables and ≥3 servings of fruit per day. Half of the participants (52%) exercised more than 3 hours a week. 

Interestingly, while most (91%) considered themselves as somewhat or very knowledgeable about nutrition, only 6% (18/297) could correctly identify the recommended daily goals for fruits and vegetables consumption and optimal calories coming from sugar.

A significant number (11/18, 61%) of participants who correctly answered nutrition questions ate ≥2 servings of vegetables/day and ≥3 servings of fruits/day compared to 34% (94/279) of those who did not (p= 0.02).

Only 46% of the participants (137/297) correctly identified the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association recommendation of exercising 150 minutes per week. Of those who were knowledgeable, 57% (78/137) exercised more than three hours per week. Similarly, 48% (77/160) of those who did not identify the correct exercise goal exercised more than three hours (p= 0.13).

Most participants (85%) considered nutrition somewhat or very important; 40% of them (102/253) ate ≥2 servings of vegetables and ≥3 servings of fruit per day, while only 7%(3/44) of those who considered nutrition less important followed this recommendation (p<0.0001).

Discussion :

Most physicians considered nutrition to be important and believed that they are knowledgeable about it. Yet, only a minority adhered to the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. While knowledge on nutrition and consideration of nutrition as important were correlated with healthy behavior, knowledge on exercise goals was not related to the amount of physical activity.

Conclusion :

Similar to their patients, physicians have knowledge and attitudes gaps about nutrition and exercise. Improving education on exercise and nutrition is conceivable to improve ther ability to counsel patients.


Naykky Singh Ospina

University of Florida

Endocrinologist at the University of Florida

Amir Kazory

Associate Professor of Medicine
University of Florida

Dr. Kazory is an academic nephrologist at the University of Florida.

Maryam Sattari

Associate Professor of Medicine
University of Florida

Associate professor of Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine

Monica Aggarwal

University of Florida

Monica Aggarwal, MD, FACC
Assistant Professor
UF Department of Medicine

Monica Aggarwal, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine in the University of Florida Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. She received her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and subsequently went on to complete a residency in internal medicine at Tufts-New England Medical Center. She then completed a cardiology fellowship at the University of Maryland and later continued her training at the University of Arizona where she completed an integrative medicine fellowship.

Serving as the Director of Integrative Cardiology and Prevention, Dr. Aggarwal focuses on promoting food as the foundation of healing and for its medicinal value. Her integrative interests include teaching mind-body techniques to aid in healing, along with community outreach and educational seminars for the public on topics such as nutrition and how to eat. Her research interests encompass how nutrition impacts cardiovascular disease and inflammatory markers.

Board certified in cardiology, echocardiography and nuclear cardiology, she is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), where she is a member of the nutrition council working on nutrition policies for the nation. Clinically, she specializes in treating women with heart disease and their prevention of heart disease. Additionally, she is the author of the book “Finding Balance: Empower Yourself with Tools to Combat Stress and Illness,” which outlines 10 prescriptions to help guide people to better health.

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