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Weight Counseling by Primary Care Doctors on the Decline

Update Date: Jan 29, 2013 03:27 AM EST

Primary care physicians or PCPs have reduced the instances of weight counseling offered from 1995-1996 to 2007-2008, according to a new research.

The research was carried out by Jennifer L. Kraschnewski, M.D., M.P.H., of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine, and her colleagues by utilizing data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to compare the weight counseling given by PCPs in the current (2007-2008) data to that of the previous one (1995-1996). The result of the research was published in the journal Medical Care.

Researchers found that the weight counseling given by the primary care doctors was markedly lower even for patients who need them, like patients with obesity, hypertension or diabetes, where weight management and loss plays a very important role in treatment.

According to the data, 7.8 percent patients were given weight counseling by their primary care doctors during the 1995 to 1996 study. However, the same trend decreased to 6.2 percent in 2007 to 2008 (adjusted odds ratio, 0.64). It was also observed that during the current study, the primary care doctors provided less information about diet, exercise and tips related to weight, be it weight management or weight loss.

The reduction in the weight counseling was 47 percent for patients with hypertension, 59 percent for those suffering from diabetes, and obese people were given 41 percent less tips pertaining to weight counseling.

"PCPs serve on the frontlines of health care and must be actively engaged to help address the nation's obesity epidemic. The barriers to providing weight-related counseling need to be defined and understood to allow for the development of new tools for primary care-based weight management that can target successful physician engagement," Kraschnewski was quoted as saying in Medicalxpress.

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