Background: There is an alarming prevalence of obesity and sedentariness in Western countries. An ideal context for health promotion and preventive medicine seems to be the setting of primary care provided by the general practitioner (GP).
Purpose: Therefore, this study evaluated the impact of GPs' brief physical activity counseling for overweight and obese patients.
Methods: Individuals recruited during routine physician visits were randomly split into an experimental (n = 48) group that received the Patient-centered Assessment and Counseling for Exercise (PACE) protocol, and a usual-care control (n = 48) group. Body mass index (BMI) and abdominal girth were assessed as objective biometrical parameters. Patients in the experimental group self-reported their readiness for physical activity and self-efficacy.
Results: The experimental group had significantly better BMI and abdominal girth compared with the control group after a 5- to 6-month follow-up. Furthermore, the experimental group progressed in their stage of physical activity readiness and increased their self-efficacy.
Conclusions: The GPs' counseling for physical activity using the PACE protocol influenced mediators and biometrical outcomes in an Italian primary care context.