Weight Counseling for Elderly Patients in Primary Care: How Often and How Much Time (Report)

ABSTRACT Some 20 million Americans over the age of 60 will soon be obese. As a result, they will likely suffer lower life-expectancy, higher disability, and higher health care costs. How much time do physicians spend with elders, especially obese elders, in helping them plan weight loss? This study, which analyzed 352 videotaped visits with elderly patients and their provider, has found that only a third of the visibly obese patients were counseled, and that the average time spent discussing the subject–if discussed–was 103 seconds. This is probably less than a fifth of the time needed to adequately counsel patients about weight loss. In addition, the study has found that both provider and patient characteristics determine if and how long discussion lasts.

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