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The impact of physician weight discussion on weight loss in US adults

Obesity Research & Clinical Practice
DOI: 10.1016/j.orcp.2013.03.003
  • Weight Counseling
  • Weight Loss
  • Primary Care
  • Physician Counseling


Summary Problem The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States and worldwide is at epidemic levels. Physicians may play a vital role in addressing this epidemic. We aimed to examine the association of a physician's discussion of patients’ weight status with self-reported weight loss. We hypothesized that physician discussion of patients’ being overweight is associated with increased weight loss in patients with overweight and obesity. Methods Data analysis of participants (n=5054) in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) in 2005–2008. The main outcome was rates of self-reported weight loss and the association with physicians’ discussion of their patients’ weight status. Results Overweight and obese participants were significantly more likely to report a 5% weight loss in the past year if their doctor had told them they were overweight (adjusted OR (AOR) 1.88; 95% CI 1.45–2.44; AOR 1.79; 95% CI 1.30–2.46, respectively). Conclusions Physicians’ direct discussion of their patients’ weight status is associated with clinically significant patient weight loss and may be a targetable intervention. Further studies are needed to determine if increasing physician discussion of patients’ weight status leads to significant weight loss.

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