Doctors who spend 30 seconds telling patients they need to lose weight can have a substantial health impact, research suggests.
This new trial, conducted by the University of Oxford, found that overweight people who had no prior interest in losing weight were able to lose 10 per cent of the body weight after being offered a free weight loss programme by their GP.
Being overweight dramatically increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, but losing weight can lower this risk.
This 30-second chat had a huge effect on patients. A total of 2,728 overweight people were involved, all of whom were being seen for another health condition when their GP spoke to them about their weight.
Half were offered a free place on a weight loss programme such as Slimming World, with a quarter of patients losing around five per cent of their original weight after a year; one-tenth lost 10 per cent. On average, the weight loss was 2.4kg (5.3 lb).
The other half were advised to lose weight, but given no more support. The average weight loss in this group was 1kg (2.2 lb).
Professor Paul Aveyard, from the University of Oxford, told BBC News: “The impact is pretty substantial given the effort – 30 seconds – that went into it. If we were year-on-year to knock 2.4kg off the heaviest people in society then that would have a very big effect in health terms.
“This should be added into the repertoire of things we all attend to in appointments like flu jabs, blood pressure and stopping smoking.”
Dr Imran Rafi, from the Royal College of GPs, added: “Levels of obesity are a growing concern in the UK and can lead to a number of debilitating and serious conditions. If this scheme is low-cost and effective, which this research claims it is, it makes sense to consider it on a wider scale.
“We must understand that while some patients in this study did benefit from a referral to a weight-loss programmen, it won’t work for everyone and shouldn’t be considered as a blanket solution to curb growing levels of obesity.”
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