A model for chronic care of obesity through dietary treatment

J Am Diet Assoc. 1998 Oct;98(10 Suppl 2):S16-22. doi: 10.1016/s0002-8223(98)00705-6.


Obesity is rapidly increasing to epidemic proportions. At the same time, obesity is not well accepted as a disease among health professionals or insurance companies. The primary care physician is often forced to ignore the obesity and treat the associated risks, and the dietitian is often compelled to treat the disease for only short periods and for little reimbursement. Therefore, to treat obesity more effectively both clinically and economically, it is necessary to create a health care team. This can be done by joining the dietitian and the primary care physician, even if each health professional sees patients at a different site. Through mutual referrals and more consistent coordination of care, the team can provide cost-effective management of obesity while providing improved clinical monitoring of the patient. Both members of the team need to understand the pathophysiology of obesity and when to refer to each other. The dietitian will see the patient more regularly throughout all stages of the obesity treatment, referring to the physician when appropriate (eg, for evaluation of medications, new laboratory tests, and electrocardiography). The physician will see the patient in the acute stage (i.e., weight change stage) of the obesity treatment for any clinical changes, but will schedule less frequent visits during the chronic stage (i.e., weight maintenance). The strength of the team, therefore, lies in its members' ability to communicate with each other, monitor the clinical changes concomitant with fluctuating weight, and offer treatment and support as intensively as the disease warrants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Dietary Services*
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational*
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Primary Health Care*