Health counseling in doctors' offices reduces obesity more effectively than doctors' advice
A physical activity and diet program implemented by health educators working in a doctor’s office may be a more effective way to get obese people to lose abdominal fat than advice from a doctor alone, according to a study from Queen’s University.
Most primary care physicians do not have the time to provide high-intensity behavioral counseling to their patients, says the report by Robert Ross, a professor from the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies.
“The cornerstone of health care delivery is the doctor’s office and the doctor doesn’t have a lot of time to counsel and adequately monitor patients to get them to adopt healthy lifestyles. So the study placed a kinesiology-trained, health care professional in the doctors’ office to see if they could produce better results – and they did,” says Dr. Ross.
The study looked at 490 sedentary, obese adults over two years. The patients who worked with a trained health educator within the primary care setting made major behavioral changes to their lifestyle over the long term resulting in significant reductions in abdominal obesity.
Dr. Ross says the findings are encouraging, but it would be premature to suggest the government should fund a health care professional in every doctor’s office.
“The study provides promising resulst and it heads us in the right direction. We still have a lot to learn about how to get obese, sedentary individuals to adopt and sustain healthy behaviors over the long term,” says Dr. Ross.
The report is published by Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.