The purpose of this study was to compare preventive care specialists and registered dietitians regarding attitudes toward obese patients, to compare both groups with Canadian and American nurses previously studied, and to determine whether relationships exist between personal characteristics and attitudes toward obese patients. Questionnaires were sent to members of the American Preventive Care Association and 1,000 randomly selected members of the California Dietetic Association. Sixty-seven preventive care specialists and 579 registered dietitians participated in the study. A modified version of the Attitudes Toward Obesity scale, developed by Bagley, et al. was used to measure attitudes. Preventive care specialists and registered dietitians differed significantly on only two of twenty questions measuring attitudes toward obese patients. Preventive care specialists were slightly more likely to think that obese adult patients should be confronted if found cheating on their diet. Registered dietitians were slightly more likely to prefer not to work with obese adults. When responses of preventive care specialists, registered dietitians, and American and Canadian nurses were compared on five statements regarding obese adults, registered dietitians tended to hold the least prejudiced attitudes. A factor analysis divided questionnaire items into five factors: Dislike Obese, Weight Loss through Self-Control, Obese are Hard to Work With, Obese Have Negative Emotions, and Obese are Like Others. Relationships were found between personal characteristics of respondents and the factors, Dislike Obese, Weight Loss through Self-Control, and Obese are Like Others. Subjects who were registered dietitians, did not hold graduate degrees, and spent less time working with obese patients helping them lose weight tended to score higher on the factor, Dislike Obese. Preventive care specialists scored higher on the factor, Weight Loss through Self-Control. Asians appeared to believe that self-control is more important than either Caucasians or Hispanics. Practitioners who spent more time with eating disorder patients scored higher on the factor, Obese are Like Others. Prejudice toward the obese may be predicted by a belief that obesity can be prevented through self-control. Training programs for preventive care specialists and registered dietitians should address attitudes toward patients that might decrease professional efficacy.


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Jerry W. Lee

Second Advisor

Gary Hopkins

Third Advisor

Bert Connell

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Obesity -- diet therapy; Obesity -- prevention and control; Attitude of Health Personnel.



Page Count

x; 83

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives