Ah, the annual physical. For some, a diagnosis with a primary care doc feels like no big deal. A few tries, some notes and a thumbs up “See you next year!”
But for millions of Americans—mostly the 42% of adults who fall under the umbrella of “obese” because of inaccurate body mass index (BMI) levels—doctor visits can be filled with inconvenient moments.
We are not throwing stones at doctors, and we know that many treat patients with compassion, targeted advice, and body neutrality. But that’s not the norm, according to a study published in the journal Dec. 13, 2022. Family practice. In it, the researchers say: In most cases, doctors give advice to patients to help them lose weight, which is more abstract than practical, very vaguely useful and not always supported by science.
In the future, learn more about how the researchers arrived at this conclusion, and scientists should keep in mind what medical professionals say and what they advise.
Related: Why praising someone’s weight loss, says a nutritionist
What did this weight loss study find?
A team of experts at the University of Oxford in England consulted on 159 audio recordings of general practitioners and their patients with BMIs in the “overweight” range. External advice was common, including instructions that one should “change one’s lifestyle a little.” Only 20% of the appointments involve consulting doctors why To achieve the recommended weight loss. (PS Here are 3 key habits to lose weight, because that’s an important part of the discussion.)
Common suggestions include the following rough tips. They are not supported by current science (and in some cases are patently false).:
Eat less, take more
Just take the steps
Be careful what you eat
Use the app to track calories and control calories and calories
Exercise as much as your joints allow
Make your own gluten-free flour because it doesn’t contain sugar (which is totally false; gluten is a protein).
“Our analysis indicates that clinicians often do not give effective recommendations, and therefore, even if patients follow the advice, they are more likely to lose weight,” the researchers explained in the journal “Eat Less, Do More.” Angle suggested falling back when other resources were unavailable.
Related: Study says exercise, not weight loss, is key to reducing health risks
It’s certainly understandable why it’s difficult to provide more tailored and non-specific recommendations. Our current medical system spends very little time on nutrition and exercise during the medical school curriculum, rather than focusing on treatment and disease-centered prevention. This is another great reason why it is important to consult with specialists in these fields, such as registered dietitians and physical therapists. In addition, doctors are often too short-sighted to recognize their patients’ experiences and other external factors that may affect overall well-being. (Say finding a safe place to exercise or working three jobs to pay the bills.) Not to mention, the research field is constantly evolving, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest best practices in chronic disease. Prevention.
“Doctors need clear guidelines on how to casually talk to obese patients about weight loss,” said study leader Madeleine Treblet, Ph.D., the study’s leader and a qualitative researcher in the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Niffield. Oxford in England said in a press release. “This emphasis will help to eliminate misconceptions and effectively help patients who want to lose weight.”
A small study examining doctors’ conversations with patients found that most standard weight-loss recommendations are vague, unhelpful, and rarely completely accurate. It is important to note that this is a small look at medical offices in one country and at one time, and that many doctors and other medical professionals are meeting on a personal level and making referrals to experts in nutrition, exercise and the community. Advocacy.
While much more research is needed and larger conversations are needed around medical school curriculum and health care industry strategy, this study highlights the need for more conversation about what can be supportive and productive for those who want to lose. Weight.
For obesity, a multifaceted and simply restrictive diet (as long as you can stick with it for dear life) is ineffective, so an individualized approach is better, the researchers say. Instead, they suggest a treatment strategy that includes:
Nutritional counseling with a registered dietitian
Behavioral improvements focus on areas such as stress management and sleep.
Lifestyle changes including tailored exercise recommendations
Help to overcome systemic barriers such as food insecurity