The impact of physician weight discussion on weight loss in US adults

Obes Res Clin Pract. 2014 Mar-Apr;8(2):e131-9. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2013.03.003.


Problem: The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States and worldwide is at epidemic levels. Physicians may play a vital role in addressing this epidemic. We aimed to examine the association of a physician's discussion of patients’ weight status with self-reported weight loss. We hypothesized that physician discussion of patients’ being overweight is associated with increased weight loss in patients with overweight and obesity.

Methods: Data analysis of participants (n = 5054) in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) in 2005-2008. The main outcome was rates of self-reported weight loss and the association with physicians’ discussion of their patients’ weight status.

Results: Overweight and obese participants were significantly more likely to report a 5% weight loss in the past year if their doctor had told them they were overweight (adjusted OR (AOR) 1.88; 95% CI 1.45-2.44; AOR 1.79; 95% CI 1.30-2.46, respectively).

Conclusions: Physicians’ direct discussion of their patients’ weight status is associated with clinically significant patient weight loss and may be a targetable intervention. Further studies are needed to determine if increasing physician discussion of patients’ weight status leads to significant weight loss.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Body Mass Index
  • Communication
  • Directive Counseling*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Overweight / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Perception
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Prevalence
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss*
  • Weight Reduction Programs / statistics & numerical data*