Weight management: what patients want from their primary care physicians

J Fam Pract. 2001 Jun;50(6):513-8.


Objective: The researchers wanted to determine the weight management experiences of patients in primary care, and what those patients want from their physicians.

Study design: Patients completed a survey in a primary care waiting room. Afterward they were measured for body mass index (BMI).

Population: A total of 410 consecutive adult patients in 2 primary care practices at the University of California, San Francisco, were approached, and 366 (89%) completed the survey.

Outcomes measured: The primary outcomes were patient attitudes about weight loss, previous weight management experiences with their current physicians, and future preferences for weight management within the primary care relationship.

Results: Ninety-seven percent of the obese patients (BMI > 30), 84% of the overweight patients (BMI=25-30), and 39% of the non-overweight patients (BMI < 25) thought they needed to lose weight. Forty-nine percent of the obese patients, 24% of the overweight patients, and 12% of the non-overweight patients had discussed weight with their current physicians. The types of weight management assistance that patients most wanted from their physicians were: (1) dietary advice, (2) help with setting realistic weight goals, and (3) exercise recommendations.

Conclusions: Although most patients believe they should lose weight, this is often not discussed during office visits. Most patients (especially those who are overweight or obese) want more help with weight management than they are getting from their primary care physicians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Communication
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nutritional Sciences / education
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Office Visits
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Participation
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • San Francisco
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome