GPs drink less, exercise more but they are still overweight

According to the study doctors have become more health conscious.

Family doctors may be exercising more and drinking less alcohol but male GPs have remained as overweight as they were 10 years earlier, a study published in the Malta Medical Journal shows.

The survey, conducted in 2011, was based on a questionnaire filled by 91 out of a total GP population of 300. Its results have now been published in the Journal. 

According to the study doctors have become more health conscious.

“More doctors check their own cholesterol and blood pressure levels yearly, perform exercise and take vaccinations and less doctors smoke cigarettes and consume more than 15 alcoholic drinks a week”.

 The mean Body Mass Index for female GPs was within normal limits but the BMI among male GPs was within the overweight category. The average BMI values were similar to the mean BMIs of GPs in 2000.

The study shows a slight improvement when it comes to drinking, smoking and exercise habits of GPs.

It shows that the number of daily smokers among GPs has decreased slightly from 15% to 14.3% while the percentage of GPs who do not exercise at all has fallen from 24% to 12%.

While 7.7% smoke cigarettes, 6.6% smoke cigars or a pipe.  This suggests a small 0.7% drop since 2000 when 15% admitted to smoking.

But the same survey shows the percentage of GPs smoking cigars or a pipe increasing from 3% to 7%.

The latest study shows that the percentage of GPs who consume more than 15 units of alcohol a week has declined from 6% to 2%.

The survey shows that 37.3% of GPs reported that they do not drink alcohol, 16% consume one to two drinks a week, 44% consume three to 14 drinks a week and only 2.2% consume 15 units or more.

The consumption of alcohol by GPs in the 2000 study showed 25% consuming on to two drinks a week, 31% consuming three to 14 drinks per week and 6% consuming 15 units or more per week. 

In 2011 58.3% of GPs exercised regularly (daily or two to three times a week), 29.7% exercised rarely (just once a month or week), while 12% of GPs never exercised at all. 

This represents an improvement compared to 2000 when only 37% of GPs exercised regularly, 39% exercised rarely and 24% never exercised. 

The study shows that GPs who smoke find it harder to advise smoking cessation. On a similar note, doctors who are obese find it harder to advise exercise.

One shortcoming of the study is that only 30.3% replied to the questionnaire. 

“GPs who did reply probably had a greater interest in health promotion and disease prevention compared to family doctors in general, and this could have affected the results,” the authors admit.

The study was written by Lynn Pace, Mario R Sammut from the Department for Primary Care, and Charmaine Gauci from the Disease Prevention Directorate.

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