Treating Obesity in the Primary Care Setting

Obesity—a common and concerning condition in the United States—disproportionately affects minorities and people of low socioeconomic background. Although the negative effects of obesity on overall health are well documented, treatment options are generally unsuccessful, with most interventions failing to produce even modest weight loss. Treatment for obesity depends on behavioral changes on the patient’s part, so identifying patient preferences is paramount.

An original research article in the Summer issue of the Ochsner Journal explores the perceptions of obesity treatment options of low-income patients and the healthcare providers who serve them. Kennedy and colleagues conducted brainstorming sessions during which patient and provider groups shared their perspectives on potential obesity treatment strategies.

Both providers and patients identified referrals to a nutritionist, medications, and exercise as the strategies having the greatest impact on weight loss. However, contrary to the opinions of providers, patients stated that giving advice only is not an effective way to address obesity. The authors conclude that primary care providers should focus on giving specific guidance and instructions to their patients instead of only advice. Read more about the weight-loss strategies identified by patients and providers here.

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