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Study: Doctor support makes weight loss easier

Participants who rated their doctors as most helpful lost an average of 111 pounds over the course of 2 years.

By Stephen Feller
Study: Doctor support makes weight loss easier
Obese patients who rated their doctors the least helpful with weight loss programs lost an average of 5 pounds over the course of 2 years -- more than 100 pounds less than those who had the most helpful doctors. Photo by Creativa Images/Shutterstock

BALTIMORE, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- People who are working to lose weight are more successful when they have the support of their healthcare provider, according to a new two-year study.

Researchers said physician-guided weight loss programs are almost never reimbursed by either Medicare or private insurance, despite the health benefits to obese people losing weight.

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"This trial supports other evidence that providers are very important in their patients' weight loss efforts," said Dr. Wendy Bennett, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a press release. "Incorporating physicians into future programs might lead patients to more successful weight loss."

Researchers reviewed data and surveys from 347 people who participated in the Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction, or POWER, two-year trial to measure the benefits of working with a coach or being guided by a physician while maintaining a weight loss program.

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Of the participants, 63 percent were female, about 40 percent were black, and as a group had an average BMI of 36.3 and mean age of 54.8 years old.

Researchers reported that participants who gave their physicians the highest ratings for the helpfulness lost an average of 111 pounds. Those who rated their doctors the lowest lost an average of 5 pounds during the two years.

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The researchers said that, based on the results of the study, they would hope to see new ideas for team-based planning of weight loss and programs to reimburse patients for physician interventions that help them treat their obesity.

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The study is published in Patient Education and Counseling.

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