Three hundred and seventy-four general practitioners (GPs) in Denmark filled in a questionnaire on attitudes to include information on gender and diet in the strategy for prevention of coronary heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and overweight/underweight. Risk factors for disease in general were ranked as follows: smoking, alcohol, stress, diet, physical exercise, heredity and hygiene. The patients' lack of motivation, insufficient time for each patient, and inadequate knowledge about nutrition were stated as barriers to dietary counselling. The GPs stated that the gender of the patient was important only to the counselling on osteoporosis. Lack of time and insufficient knowledge were perceived as barriers for including gender specific issues in prevention. It is concluded that GPs consider dietary counselling important but lack time and knowledge. The results point at a need for better pre- and postgraduate training in nutrition, and for a better reimbursement system for time spent on prevention.