A cross-sectional study assessing Australian general practice patients’ intention, reasons and preferences for assistance with losing weight
1 Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, W4 Hunter Medical Research Institute, University of Newcastle, Newcastle 2308, Callaghan, Australia
2 Hunter Medical Research Institute, 1 Kookaburra Circuit, New Lambton Hights 2305, Australia
BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:187 doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-187Published: 10 December 2013
The high prevalence of overweight and obesity in the population is concerning, as these conditions increase an individual’s risk of various chronic diseases. General practice is an ideal setting to target the reduction of overweight or obesity. Examining general practice patients’ intentions to lose weight and preferences for assistance with managing their weight is likely to be useful in informing weight management care provided in this setting. Thus, this study aimed to: 1) identify the proportion and characteristics of patients intending to change weight in the next six months; 2) reasons for intending to change weight and preferences for different modes of weight management assistance in overweight and obese patients.
A cross-sectional study was conducted with 1,306 Australian adult general practice patients. Consenting patients reported via a touchscreen computer questionnaire their demographic characteristics, intention to lose weight in the next six months, reasons for wanting to lose weight, preferred personnel to assist with weight loss and willingness to accept support delivered via telephone, mobile and internet.
Fifty six percent (n = 731) of patients intended to lose weight in the next six months. Females, younger patients, those with a level of education of trade certificate and above or those with high cholesterol had significantly higher odds of intending to lose weight. “Health” was the top reason for wanting to lose weight in normal weight (38%), overweight (57%) and obese (72%) patients. More than half of overweight (61%) or obese (74%) patients reported that they would like help to lose weight from one of the listed personnel, with the dietitian and general practitioner (GP) being the most frequently endorsed person to help patients with losing weight. Almost 90% of overweight or obese participants indicated being willing to accept support with managing their weight delivered via the telephone.
Most overweight or obese general practice patients intended to lose their weight in the next six months for health reasons. Younger females, with higher level of education or had high cholesterol had significantly higher odds of reporting intending to lose weight in the next six months. An opportunity exists for GPs to engage patients in weight loss discussions in the context of improving health. Interventions involving GP and dietitians with weight management support delivered via telephone, should be explored in future studies in this setting.