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Weight loss options in general practice

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A positive approach, using the 5As, is required when helping obese patients manage their weight

Obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or more, is increasingly prevalent in Australia, affecting 28% of adults, 7% of children aged 5–17 years and 27% of patients who present to general practice.1,2 Overweight and obesity are strong risk factors for chronic conditions such as diabetes, which have also been steadily increasing over the past two decades.1 Although obesity is ultimately due to an imbalance between energy intake (diet) and expenditure (digestion, metabolism and physical activity), this is influenced by a complex range of other factors, including genetics, epigenetics, the gut biome, the social environment, culture and health literacy over the life cycle.3

In the face of this complexity and repeated failed efforts by their patients to lose weight, many clinicians feel frustrated, attributing the lack of success to lack of patient motivation.4 The negative attitudes of some clinicians, in turn, result in many patients trying to lose weight without medical support.5 Yet, obesity can be addressed successfully and even small amounts of weight loss are associated…