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GPs told to be honest with obese people

Press AssociationPress Association 24/10/2016 Ella Pickover

GPs should stop worrying about causing offence to obese patients and should discuss weight loss options even during routine consultations, experts say.

Even if overweight or obese patients go to see their family doctor on a matter unrelated to their weight, GPs should offer them places on a weight loss program, they say.

The comments come after a new study found that if GPs actively try to engage their patients about their weight, there could be some beneficial results.

The research, led by experts at the University of Oxford, saw 137 medics challenge almost 1,900 patients about their weight during routine consultations unrelated to weight loss.

At the end of the appointment, patients were randomly given one of two interventions.

Half were offered a free 12-week weight management program. The other half were advised by their GP that losing weight would benefit their health.

All of the participants were weighed at the first consultation, then at three months they were asked whether they had taken any action to manage their weight, then weighed again at 12 months.

Three quarters of those invited on the weight loss program agreed to go and 40 per cent attended, according to the study published in The Lancet.

People who were referred to the program lost an average of 2.4kg compared with 1kg in the control group.

"Doctors can be concerned about offending their patients by discussing their weight, but evidence from this trial shows that they should be much less worried," said lead author professor Paul Aveyard, lead author, who is a practising GP.

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