UMMS Affiliation

School of Medicine; Senior Scholars Program; Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Faculty Mentor

Judith K. Ockene

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine


Introduction: Individuals with excess weight have increased morbidity and mortality compared to those of normal weight, and there are differences in disease risk between overweight and obese men and women. However, limited information on how physicians counsel these groups and on patients’ experiences with weight management counseling (WMC) is available. The goals of this study are to describe specific WMC approaches provided to patients, reported benefit of these strategies, and study participants’ WMC preferences.

Methods:103 participants, stratified by BMI (Overweight: 25.0 ≤ BMI ≤ 29.9; Obese: BMI ≥ 30.0) and gender, completed surveys. Survey questions focused on WMC approaches (e.g., discussions about diet, generation of specific weight loss goals) currently provided by physicians, reported benefit of these methods, and patients’ WMC preferences for future care. Frequency counts were used in analysis of all questions. Chi-square and Fisher’s exact test (p < .05) were performed to assess significance between stratified groups.

Results: Participants reported receiving a wide-range of WMC, from discussions about diet to surgery. Overweight participants and women reported less counseling compared to obese individuals and men, respectively. Compared to men, women reported fewer discussions in areas such as past weight loss attempts (p=0.014) and effects of weight on long-term health (p=0.008). In general, participants found scheduling follow-up appointments most beneficial (72.8%). There were no significant differences by BMI or gender. Overall, participants most preferred that physicians increase support in generating specific strategies to assist in weight loss (74.8%) and in helping them to develop specific weight loss goals (65.1%). By gender, men most preferred increased development of weight loss strategies (70.0%) by their physicians and desired more discussions about the effects of weight on long-term health (63.3%). Women most preferred increased development of specific weight loss strategies (79.2%) as well as increased generation of specific weight loss goals (67.9%) by their physicians. Both overweight and obese participants (68.6% and 80.7%, respectively) sought increased development of weight loss strategies.

Conclusions: This appears to be the first cross-sectional study comparing patients’ WMC experiences and preferences, stratified by BMI and gender. Results demonstrate that regardless of BMI and gender, patients want more WMC, with preference for certain strategies. Differences were noted between stratified groups.


obesity, weight loss, weight management counseling, Body Mass Index (BMI)

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Copyright is held by the author(s), with all rights reserved.

DOI of Published Version


Journal/Book/Conference Title

2016 Senior Scholars Program Poster Presentation Day


Jennifer Lee participated in this study as a medical student as part of the Senior Scholars research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This poster was presented on Senior Scholars Program Poster Presentation Day at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, on April 27, 2016.