Predictors of weight control advice in primary care practices: patient health and psychosocial characteristics

Prev Med. 2005 Jan;40(1):71-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.05.012.


Background: Past research has surveyed primary care physicians (PCP) about their attitudes and practices towards obese patients, yet less is known about the patients receiving advice.

Methods: The Primary Care Weight Control Project (PCWC) enrolled 18 PCPs in a randomized clinical trial and asked 255 of their patients who were either overweight or obese at baseline about past weight control advice.

Results: At baseline, 66.4% of patients reported that their physician previously told them they were overweight. Body mass index (BMI) was a strong predictor of being identified as obese. While 65.1% received information on the health benefits of weight loss, only 36.6% of patients were ever given specific weight control advice, and 28.2% were advised to increase their physical activity. A history of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or hypertension was associated with physician-delivered weight control advice. Stages of change and number of prior visits with the PCP were also associated with physician advice.

Conclusions: Patients were more likely to receive education about weight loss than specific behavioral advice on how to lose weight. Physicians were more likely to provide weight control advice to their patients who had obesity-related comorbidities than to patients who were overweight or obese and without risk factors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Pennsylvania
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Weight Loss*