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General Practitioners Rarely Give Personalized Weight-Loss Advice

Analysis of recordings of weight-loss consultations with patients with obesity identified highly variable diet and physical activity advice

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Weight-loss advice from general practitioners (GPs) to patients with obesity is mainly generic and is rarely personalized, according to a study published online Dec. 13 in Family Practice.

Madeleine Tremblett, Ph.D., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the behavioral advice GPs give to people living with obesity. A qualitative content analysis was applied to 159 audio recordings of consultations from the Brief Interventions for Weight Loss trial, where GPs gave brief weight-loss advice to patients with a body mass index ≥30 kg/m2. The content was categorized into descriptive clusters.

The researchers identified four clusters in the results, which highlighted different aspects of advice: content of diet and physical activity advice, which was highly variable; content of “implementation tips” that were given to support changes and included eating smaller portions, using small plates, and changes to mindset or intention; content of sign-posting support, encouraging further clinician support or other resources; and style of advice delivery, which indicated that GPs rarely gave personalized advice or provided reasons for their advice.

“Our analysis identifies that clinicians mostly do not provide effective advice, and so even if patients were to follow the advice, they would be unlikely to lose weight,” the authors write. “When clinicians lacked support services to offer patients they commonly advocated a general ‘eat less, do more’ approach. This message is disliked by patients, and unlikely to be effective.”

One author disclosed financial ties to Novo Nordisk.

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