Dropping the pounds and maintaining a healthy weight come with many benefits but unfortunately neither are easy to do, especially knowing that even a doctor’s advice is not always helpful.
This is what a study published in Family Practice suggests, stating that oftentimes, medical experts fail to give the best weight loss advice to their patients.
Led by UK researchers, the study looked at more than 150 audio recordings from primary care visits.
What they were able to find was that more often than not, doctors simply encourage patients to “do more” or “eat less” instead of recommending proven weight loss strategies to them.
As it turns out, only around 20 percent of visits featured actionable instructions.
While the research was based in the United Kingdom, doctors believe it suggests it’s applicable in the United States as well as all over the world, being indicative of a global issue.
Assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics, Dr. Selvi Rajagopal, says that telling patients to just eat less and move more is not only not helpful but it can even be harmful.
He told ABC News that “It puts a lot of blame on the patient. And it also gives them no clear tangible action plan of what to do.”
The authors of the study think that offering more specific weight loss counseling would be much better support from primary care doctors for those who need help.
The advice from the National Institute of Health is for doctors to make individual weight loss plans along with their patients.
Unfortunately, a separate study from 2020 shows that primary care providers often lack enough knowledge about weight loss methods.
Furthermore, proper patient counseling is also limited because of time constraints.
Rajagopal noted that “There is just so little time. There are many other tasks, [doctors] feel overwhelmed.”
The research points out that weight loss goals should be measurable, specific, realistic, time sensitive and achievable as opposed to vague and broad.
As mentioned before, Rajagopal also believes that the experts need to offer specific and evidence-based advice to their patients in need of guidance.
At the same time, patients know best what weight loss goals are achievable and realistic for their unique situations and lifestyles, which is why it’s important for the doctor and patient to establish a strategy together.
“If it’s something that just isn’t within their bandwidth for whatever reason, whatever life circumstances, telling them to do something unachievable is not going to happen,” Rajagopal stated.