Body Mass Index Assessment of Health Care Professionals in a Primary Care Setting in Portugal: a Cross Sectional Study

Inês Campos-Matos, André Peralta-Santos, Bernardo Gomes, Gustavo Borges, Pedro Aguiar


Introduction: Obesity is an important public health problem because it is a risk factor for numerous diseases and is associated with a higher death risk. Evidence concerning the prevalence of excess weight in health professionals is scarce and this group is often overlooked in weight interventions programs. This paper aims to estimate the prevalence of obesity and overweight among Portuguese primary health care professionals and to describe differences between occupational groups.
Material and Methods: This was a cross sectional study based on a primary care setting in Portugal in 2011. We collected data on occupation, age, sex and height of professionals from four primary care centers. We did a descriptive analysis of the main variables and an analysis of covariance to compare mean Body Mass Index.
Results: Our sample represented 52.8% of the total population of the four primary care centers, and 38.6% were overweight and 16.9% were obese. When adjusted for age and gender, health service personnel had the highest average Body Mass Index, followed by nurses, physicians, and superior technicians, in that order.
Discussion: Although we can’t ensure the generalisation of the results and cannot exclude the possibility of sampling bias, these results suggest high prevalence obesity and overweight in workers of primary health care in Portugal.
Conclusion: In this primary care setting more than half of the health care professionals were overweight or obese. Tailored interventions might be needed to tackle this issue.

Keywords: Body Mass Index; Health Personnel; Obesity; Portugal; Primary Health Care; Prevalence.

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