Despite fitness professionals’ efforts to help people lose weight, a significant portion of the population remains overweight or obese. Maybe it’s time to ask for reinforcements to tackle this growing health risk.

According to research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, individuals enrolled in a weight loss clinic who felt their primary care physician (PCP) had been helpful with the program lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t share that sentiment. The 2-year study, published in Patient Education and Counseling (2015; 98 [9], 1099–1105), involved 347 obese individuals, average age 55, some of whom attempted to lose weight with the support of a health coach who was supervised by a PCP. At the end of the study, participants were surveyed about their experience with the PCP, and their responses were compared against the weight loss data.

Patient–provider relationship quality was not associated with weight loss; nearly all study subjects reported high-quality relationships with their physicians. Among intervention participants, however, those “who gave their physicians the highest ratings on ‘helpfulness’ during the trial lost an average of 11 pounds, compared to just over 5 pounds for those who gave their physicians the lowest ‘helpfulness’ ratings,” according to study authors.

The researchers concluded that partnering with PCPs may make weight loss programs more successful.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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