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Nutrition and physical activity counselling by general practitioners in Lithuania, 2000–2014

  • Kriaucioniene, Vilma1
  • Petkeviciene, Janina1
  • Raskiliene, Asta1
  • 1 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Faculty of Public Health, Academy of Medicine, Kaunas, Tilzes 18, Lithuania , Kaunas (Lithuania)
Published Article
BMC Family Practice
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Sep 07, 2019
DOI: 10.1186/s12875-019-1022-8
Springer Nature


BackgroundPrimary health care plays a crucial role in providing recommendations on a healthy diet and physical activity to assist patients in weight management.The study aimed to evaluate health behaviour counselling provided by general practitioners (GPs) for adults with overweight and obesity in Lithuania between 2000 and 2014.MethodsEight biennial postal surveys to independent nationally representative random samples of Lithuanians aged 20–64 were conducted. Response rates varied from 41.1 to 74%, with a decreasing trend over time. The data of 5867 participants who visited a GP at least once during the last year and had BMI of ≥25.0 kg/m2 were analysed. Respondents were asked about GP advice on nutrition and physical activity and changes in their health behaviour during the last year.ResultsThe proportion of persons with overweight who reported GP advice on nutrition increased from 23.6% in 2000 to 37.5% in 2010 and advice on physical activity from 11.9 to 17.2% respectively; however, later both proportions decreased slightly. The likelihood of reporting was higher in respondents with higher BMI, more chronic conditions and frequent contact with a GP. Respondents who were living in cities, older and highly educated women were all more likely to report being advised on physical activity. Men and women who received advice from a GP more often reported changes in health behaviour as compared with non-advised individuals.ConclusionsDespite increasing trends, the rate of GP advice on nutrition and physical activity reported by patients with overweight and obesity remains low in Lithuania. GP advice appears to have a significant impact on attempts by patients to change behaviour related to weight control. Therefore, there is an obvious need to make additional efforts to increase the frequency of GP counselling and to identify and address barriers to advising patients with overweight.

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