According to a survey of 202 GPs across the UK, 60% encourage their patients to lose weight, but 50% feel their efforts are unsuccessful.
Just 1% of GPs thought they had successfully supported their patients in losing weight.
Most GPs cited a lack of resources, funding and patient motivation as explanations for why their efforts were unproductive.
In response to these failed attempts, practice nurses are starting up their own initiatives to tackle obesity in their local areas.
Dianna Bennet, a practice nurse in Gosport, runs a successful service alongside GPs to encourage patients to lose weight.
“Having primary care nurses with a special interest in weight management not only relieves the pressure on doctors but also helps patients feel they have additional support and motivation,” she says.
To help nurses support GPs in tackling obesity, Abbott has developed an online resource: “change for life”.
The site offers advice on setting up specialist obesity services, what equipment is needed, how to run a patient group and protocol for one-to-one support sessions.
Chairman of the National Obesity Forum Dr Colin Waine said: “Supporting patients to change their behaviours is critical to combating obesity but can be time-consuming for GPs.
“It is clear that nurses are vital in helping to provide the critical one-to-one support which obese patients need.”