Objective: To pilot-test a brief written prescription recommending lifestyle changes delivered by general practitioners (GPs) to their patients.
Design: The Active Nutrition Script (ANS) included five nutrition messages and personalised exercise advice for a healthy lifestyle and/or the prevention of weight gain. GPs were asked to administer 10 scripts over 4 weeks to 10 adult patients with a body mass index (BMI) of between 23 and 30 kg m(-2). Information recorded on the script consisted of patients' weight, height, waist circumference, gender and date of birth, type and frequency of physical activity prescribed, and the selected nutrition messages. GPs also recorded reasons for administering the script. Interviews recorded GPs views on using the script.
Setting: General practices located across greater Melbourne.
Subjects and results: Nineteen GPs (63% female) provided a median of nine scripts over 4 weeks. Scripts were administered to 145 patients (mean age: 54+/-13.2 years, mean BMI: 31.7+/-6.3 kg m(-2); 57% female), 52% of whom were classified as obese (BMI >30 kg m(-2)). GPs cited 'weight reduction' as a reason for writing the script for 78% of patients. All interviewed GPs (90%, n=17) indicated that the messages were clear and simple to deliver.
Conclusions: GPs found the ANS provided clear nutrition messages that were simple to deliver. However, GPs administered the script to obese patients for weight loss rather than to prevent weight gain among the target group. This has important implications for future health promotion interventions designed for general practice.