The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends that all patients be screened for obesity and given appropriate weight loss advice, if needed, as nutrition counseling by primary care physicians is a key objective for Healthy People 2020. This study assesses the association between health care provider's (HCP) advice to lose weight and eating behaviors among obese individuals. Data were collected using a household survey of adults in five New Jersey cities in 2009-10. Analyses presented are limited to 548 obese participants. Negative-binomial regression analysis determined the association of participants' eating behaviors and HCP's advice to lose weight, after adjusting for the participant's attempt to lose weight and demographic variables. Despite being obese, only 48% of the participants received weight loss advice from their HCP while 68% stated they were attempting to lose weight. HCP's advice to lose weight was associated with increased salad and fruit consumption (PR 1.3, 95% CI 1.06-1.61; PR 1.23, 95% CI 1.02-1.48). Attempting to lose weight was positively associated with a higher consumption of fruit (PR 1.39, 95% CI 1.13-1.72), vegetables (PR 1.22, 95% CI 1.07-1.39), and with eating fruits and vegetables as snacks (PR 1.62, 95% CI 1.28-2.05). Attempting to lose weight was negatively associated with consumption of sweet snacks (PR 0.68, 95% CI 0.49-0.94), sugar sweetened beverages (PR 0.71, 95% CI 0.58-0.87) and fast food (PR 0.77, 95% CI 0.62-0.97). There were no significant interactions between HCP's advice and attempts to lose weight. Obese adult's attempt to lose weight, and not HCP's advice to lose weight, was a predictor for healthy eating behaviors. Interventions in medical practices should train HCPs on effective strategies for motivating obese patients to adopt healthier lifestyles.
Keywords: Health care provider advice; Nutrition counseling; Obesity management; Primary care; Weight loss.
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