Patient attitudes toward physician treatment of obesity

J Fam Pract. 1994 Jan;38(1):45-8.


Background: Family physicians are frequently faced with the problem of caring for overweight patients since 30% to 40% of American adults are overweight and 10% are obese. The traditional approach of physicians treating obese patients, which includes diet instruction, dietitian referral, and supportive therapy, has demonstrated little success.

Methods: A focus group of obese patients was formed to discuss weight-loss therapy from a patient viewpoint. Three sessions were completed, one each for patients' feelings and life experiences, exercise, and eating habits. The traditional medical approach to weight-loss therapy was discussed.

Results: All participants reported having failed physicians' attempts to aid them in weight loss. Similarly, all related negative life experiences, job discrimination, and derogatory remarks that they attributed to their weight. Participants were not supportive of physicians' traditional approach to aiding patients with weight loss.

Conclusions: The results suggest that the traditional approach to treating patients' excessive weight is not helpful from the patient viewpoint. Study participants were more supportive of a group approach to the treatment of obesity that would include group exercise and modification of currently used foods rather than new low-calorie recipes. The issues of transportation and child care must be addressed by weight-loss programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Family Practice*
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy, Group