Doctors Keep Giving Out Really Bad Diet Advice

Common medical advice “does not empower people to succeed in their weight loss efforts”

PLUS: what works instead

| By Maria Cohut, Mar 22, 2019

Medical News Today – Doctors often advise people who are overweight to lose weight by improving their dietary habits or becoming more physically active.

However, the results of a new study suggest that such generic advice does not empower people to succeed in their weight loss efforts.

Doctors should give patients specific weight loss advice and demonstrate empathy, say researchers.

According to data that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite, over 71 percent of adults over the age of 20 years in the United States are overweight or have obesity.

Being overweight can increase a person’s risk of developing metabolic conditions, such as diabetes, and experiencing cardiovascular problems.

For this reason, doctors advise people who are overweight to improve their health outcomes by adopting a more healthful lifestyle.

However, recent research by investigators from Duke University in Durham, NC has found that offering generic advice, such as “follow a better diet” or “exercise more,” does not help people lose weight.

“Just telling somebody to lose weight or improve their diet or physical activity didn’t work,” notes study co-author Prof. Gary Bennett.

“The doctor should instead encourage patient participation in a specific program,” he recommends.

Prof. Bennett and colleagues report their current findings in a study paper that appears in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Specificity is important, as is empathy

The researchers recruited 134 participants who were all overweight and had a mean age of 51 years. Of these participants, 70 percent were women, and 55 percent were African-American. Many of them had health problems, including diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).

The study lasted for 1 year, during which participants took part in a weight loss program that set behavioral goals according to their individual needs … Read more. 


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