Most primary care physicians do not treat obesity, citing lack of time, resources, insurance reimbursement, and knowledge of effective interventions as significant barriers. To address this need, a 10-minute intervention delivered by the primary care physician was coupled with individual dietary counseling sessions delivered by a registered dietitian via telephone with an automated calling system (House-Calls, Mobile, AL). Patients were seen for follow-up by their physician at weeks 4, 12, 24, 36 and 52. A total of 252 patients (202 women and 50 men) were referred by 18 primary care physicians to the program. The comorbid conditions reported for all patients at baseline included low back pain, 29% (n = 72); hypertension, 45% (n = 113); hypercholesterolemia, 41% (n = 104); type 2 diabetes, 10% (n = 26); and sleep apnea, 5% (n = 12). When offered a choice of meal plans based on foods or meal replacements, two-thirds of patients (n = 166) chose to use meal replacements (Ultra Slim-Fast; Slim-Fast Foods Co., West Palm Beach, FL) at least once daily. Baseline weights of subjects averaged 200 +/- 46 lb for women (n = 202) and 237 +/- 45 lb for men (n = 50). Patients completing 6 months in the program lost an average of 19.0 +/- 4.0 lb for women (n = 94) and 15.5 +/- 8.2 lb for men (n = 26). Physicians reported a high degree of satisfaction with the program, suggesting that a brief, effective physician-directed program with nutritionist support by telephone can be implemented in a busy primary care office.