University Of Tasmania

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Who discusses reaching a healthy weight with a general practitioner? Findings from the 2014-2015 Australian National Health Survey

Objective: General practitioners (GPs) can positively impact upon patient intentions to lose weight and weight management, and are important in the referral pathway to specialist weight-loss programs and surgical interventions. The aim of this study was to investigate the characteristics and proportions of Australians who report talking to a GP about weight management.

Methods: Cross-sectional data from 15,329 participants aged 15 years and over in the 2014-15 Australian National Health Survey were used. Proportions (with 95% confidence intervals (95%CI)) of respondents who reported discussing reaching a healthy weight with a GP in the previous 12 months were estimated, categorised by demographic, social and health characteristics.

Results: We found that 10.8% (95%CI:9.8-11.8) of overweight participants, 24.4% (95%CI:22.7-26.4) with Class 1 obesity (30≤BMI <35kg/m2) and 41.8% (95%CI:38.3-45.3) with Classes II/III obesity (BMI≥35kg/m2) reported discussing weight with a GP. Higher proportions of respondents with Class II/Class III obesity and poor/fair self-reported health (50.2%, 95%CI:43.3-57.0), or high/very high levels of psychological distress (53.3%, 95%CI:43.7-61.4), or diabetes (64.8%, 95%CI:51.9-77.3) reported discussing weight. As age, number of GP visits, or comorbid conditions increased, the proportions of people who discussed their weight with a GP also increased, across all weight classes.

Conclusions: While discussions are more likely with increasing BMI and comorbidities, most Australians with overweight and obesity appear to be missing opportunities to discuss reaching a healthy weight with their GP. Policies, training and education programs to encourage this dialogue could lead to earlier and more beneficial weight-related interventions.


Publication title

Obesity Research and Clinical Practice










Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Elsevier BV

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2018 Asia Oceania Association for the Study of Obesity

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified

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