Weight Loss Programs Guided by Physicians More Effective
Weight loss programs supported by doctors are, in general, more effective than making a plan of your own, a new study suggests. In a report on the study by researchers from Johns Hopkins, survey answers from 347 obese people who took part in a federally funded weight loss clinical trial demonstrated that, even though overall weight loss rates were mediocre, those who rated their primary care doctor’s support as particularly helpful lost around twice as much weight as those who didn’t.
These findings, say the report’s authors, could inform the development of weight loss programs that give primary care physicians a starring role.
Of the study subjects 63 percent were female, with an average age of 55 years, and an average BMI of 36.3.
Scientistss have long known that high-quality patient-doctor relationships marked by empathy, good communication, collaboration and trust are linked to better adherence to medication schedules, appointment keeping and other good outcomes, says Wendy L. Bennett, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a primary care physician at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Earlier studies also have shown that obese patients are more likely to report poor physician-patient relationships, she says, with evidence of decreased respect and weight bias from providers.
Nearly all of the 347 patient surveys reviewed for the Johns Hopkins study reported high-quality relationships with their physicians, with the overall relationship showing little effect on weight loss.
But the patients who gave their physicians the highest ratings on “helpfulness” during the trial lost an average of 11 pounds, compared to just over 5 pounds for those who gave their physicians the lowest “helpfulness” ratings.
“This trial supports other evidence that providers are very important in their patients’ weight loss efforts,” Bennett says.
Many current weight loss programs are commercially run, she adds, and patients often join these programs without their physician’s knowledge.
“Incorporating physicians into future programs might lead patients to more successful weight loss,” she says.