Don't Go it Alone with Weight Loss

Obesity loses to nutrition and exercise

(RxWiki News) It's low-tech and inexpensive, but regular visits to your primary care physician may be one of the most effective strategies for battling obesity.

A lifestyle that includes routine checkups with a general practitioner achieves significant weight reduction in obese adults, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). 

"See your primary care doctor for weight loss plans."

In two studies funded by NHLBI, the benefits of regular doctor visits on combating obesity were clear. The first study, POWER-UP, consisted of 390 patients who were randomized to brief, intense weight loss intervention. These patients had a mean weight loss of ten pounds at the two-year mark.

According to lead author Thomas A. Wadden, PhD, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, this is a significant improvement over typical weight loss.

The second study, POWER trial, compared three different interventions in 415 patients who were obese and had hypertension. The first intervention was self-directed; the second delivered in person; and the third relied on telephone, email and Internet-based coaching.

Both in-person and remote interventions had better results than the self-directed program. 41 percent of the in-person group and 38 percent of the remote group lost five percent of their body weight and kept it off for two years. The self-directed group also lost weight, but only 19 percent lost five percent and maintained that loss for two years.

Lawrence J. Appel, MD, of Johns Hopkins University and the lead author of the POWER trial, said that the estimated cost of the intervention was $600-800 per patient, over the entire two years.

86% of the patients in POWER-UP and 95% of the patients in the POWER trial also completed follow-up, which is exceptional considering the standard 35-40 percent dropout rate in weight loss studies.

Results of both studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in November 2011.

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Review Date: 
November 17, 2011