Diet myths are being perpetuated by GPs, who provide unhelpful information to many of their overweight patients, a study has found.Family doctors larg
Diet myths are being perpetuated by GPs, who provide unhelpful information to many of their overweight patients, a study has found.
Family doctors largely rely on ‘unscientific’ advice, mostly telling people to simply ‘eat less and do more’, an analysis of 159 GP consultations reports.
Researchers say GPs, who can lack knowledge and confidence when it comes to weight loss advice, or worry about offending people, are also perpetuating ‘myths’.
These include the advice that people need the ‘right mindset’ to shed the pounds, or that small changes in behaviour, like slightly cutting calories, ‘taking the stairs more often’, or doing more exercise without tackling diet, can lead to substantial weight loss.
Family doctors largely rely on ‘unscientific’ advice, mostly telling people to simply ‘eat less and do more’, an analysis of 159 GP consultations reports
The academics, from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, analysed 159 audio recordings of GP consultations in the UK where the doctors were required to give ‘brief interventions for weight loss’ to patients who were obese.
These are short conversations to help people change their lifestyle and reduce their risk of serious conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Just four of the consultations, carried out for a separate study between June 2013 and December 2014, provided a reason or justification for the type of advice they were providing to patients.
The rest were all ‘abstract advice without giving any reason, justification, or evidence’.
One quoted example from a GP on how to lose weight was: ‘I think certain, just, basic things can help – like firstly just determination that you want to do something about it really.’
The authors conclude: ‘Our analysis identifies that clinicians mostly do not provide effective advice, and so even if patients were to follow the advice, they would be unlikely to lose weight.’
Dr Charlotte Albury, senior author of the study from Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Services, at the University of Oxford, said: ‘This study is important because it highlights that people with obesity are receiving messages that they can lose weight by simply ‘eating less and doing more’.
‘But actually this very unlikely to be effective.
‘We need better guidelines and training to help GPs to make sure messages are based in science, not myth.’
Guidelines recommend that GPs take every opportunity to talk to people who are obese, as even a brief conversation can help to lose weight.
More than two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, making it a national crisis.
The study found GP advice on diet and exercise was mostly ‘generic’, and not linked to the person’s own knowledge or life, even though patients say this approach is unhelpful.
An example of generic advice is a doctor telling a patient to ‘reduce your carbohydrates’.
But even when GPs were more specific, researchers found their advice was highly varied, often lacked evidence and was often ‘superficial’, like telling someone to just ‘change their lifestyle a bit’.
The study notes that patients dislike a general ‘eat less, do more’ approach.
Family doctors were found to give patients information on how to carry out their advice in only a fifth of the consultations.
In three-quarters of cases, however, they helpfully signposted patients to where they could get further effective help or suggested that they return for another consultation at their surgery.
Doctors whose consultations were analysed aimed to keep their ‘brief interventions’ for weight loss at 30 seconds, although actual times varied.
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Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk