Trends in professional advice to lose weight among obese adults, 1994 to 2000
Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
Medical Subject Headings
Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Communication; Comorbidity; Counseling; Diabetes Mellitus; Female; Health Care Surveys; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Obesity; Physician's Practice Patterns; Physician-Patient Relations; Primary Health Care; United States
Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Research | Primary Care
CONTEXT: Obesity is a fast-growing threat to public health in the U.S., but information on trends in professional advice to lose weight is limited.
OBJECTIVE: We studied whether rising obesity prevalence in the U.S. was accompanied by an increasing trend in professional advice to lose weight among obese adults.
DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: We used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a cross-sectional prevalence study, from 1994 (n = 10,705), 1996 (n = 13,800), 1998 (n = 18,816), and 2000 (n = 26,454) to examine changes in advice reported by obese adults seen for primary care.
MEASUREMENTS: Self-reported advice from a health care professional to lose weight.
RESULTS: From 1994 to 2000, the proportion of obese persons receiving advice to lose weight fell from 44.0% to 40.0%. Among obese persons not graduating from high school, advice declined from 41.4% to 31.8%; and for those with annual household incomes below 25,000 dollars, advice dropped from 44.3% to 38.1%. In contrast, the prevalence of advice among obese persons with a college degree or in the highest income group remained relatively stable and high (> 45%) over the study period.
CONCLUSIONS: Disparities in professional advice to lose weight associated with income and educational attainment increased from 1994 to 2000. There is a need for mechanisms that allow health care professionals to devote sufficient attention to weight control and to link with evidence-based weight loss interventions, especially those that target groups most at risk for obesity.