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Doctors Can Influence Patients to Lose Weight: Studies
Date:2/28/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The battle of the bulge is not lost, and health-care providers could be major players in the fight to reduce waistlines, two new studies report.

One of the studies found that if patients are told by their doctors that they are overweight or obese, they are more likely to see themselves that way and are more likely to want to lose weight and to try to lose weight.

The study did not track whether these patients actually lost weight after this realistic assessment, compared to their less-informed counterparts.

The second study found that counseling by a nurse practitioner or "usual care" from a family physician helped overweight patients maintain their existing weight, without gaining more weight.

"Maybe the doctor can be another person on the team pushing for weight loss," said Dr. John Simmons, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Texas A& M Health Science Center College of Medicine in Bryan-College Station.

Simmons was not involved with the studies, which appear in the Feb. 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

The first study was led by family physician Dr. Robert E. Post, who said he "noticed in my own practice that there are a lot of patients who are not aware of their own weight status."

Post's observation has been borne out by previous research.

"I wanted to see what would possibly change these perceptions," said Post, who currently practices medicine in Voorhees, N.J., but conducted the study while a faculty development fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

In looking at national data on a large group of U.S. adults, Post and his colleagues determined that patients who were told by their doctors that they were overweight were eight times more likely to perceive themselves this way, compared with patients who were not informed of t
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