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Obesity needs to be better treated

14 January 2015

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GP practices are being urged to encourage staff to treat obesity and weight problems following an analysis of patient records by an online medical journal.

BMJ Openanalysed the health records of more than 90,000 obese and overweight adults. It found that only 10% of overweight patients, 20% of obese patients and 41% of severely obese patients received any form of weight management support between 2005 -2012.

The researchers looked at all the weight management options provided, including lifestyle advice, specialist referrals, and prescription of obesity drugs.

There was little documented evidence that progress on weight loss had been tracked after an intervention had been introduced.

Monitoring progress on weight loss in the first year after an intervention was most frequently recorded in the case notes of patients who had been referred to specialist services (34%). But it was only recorded for one in five of those given lifestyle advice and one in four of those prescribed an obesity drug.

There was no evidence that outcomes were being monitored for any intervention after five years.

The report states: “The results of this study suggest that primary care interventions given to patients with the aim of reducing weight are underutilised, and that follow up to determine their success is poor.

“This might indicate a lack of patient access to appropriate body weight management interventions in primary care due to a lack of clinician awareness or confidence in treating obesity.”