Medically managing obesity: Offering hope or a disincentive to change?

Patient Educ Couns. 2017 Jan;100(1):93-97. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2016.08.016. Epub 2016 Aug 20.


Objective: As weight loss in primary care remains minimal, Health Professionals are advised to medically manage obesity-related risk factors including blood pressure and cholesterol. This experimental study evaluated the impact of medically managing risk factors on obese patients' motivation to change their behaviour.

Methods: A vignette study with two arms: successful medical management (ie risk factors have improved) vs failed medical management (ie no change) set in three General Practices in the South of England. Overweight and obese patients (n=170) rated their behavioural intentions and beliefs after reading a vignette describing an overweight patient who had received either successful or failed medical management of their risk factors (blood pressure and cholesterol).

Results: Following successful medical management overweight and obese patients reported increased intentions to lose weight and a greater understanding of their condition.

Conclusion: Medical management may change patient's understanding of their weight problem and motivate them to lose weight.

Practice implications: Successful management relating to improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol may offer renewed hope and motivate obese patients to change their behaviour. This could be used as a teachable moment to encourage patients to see that obesity need not be an inevitable part of their lives.

Keywords: Communication; Consultation; Obesity management; Primary care; Risk factor feedback.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Obesity Management / methods*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Loss


  • Cholesterol