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Weight management advice for GPs

This 45 minute recording gives a summary of the best current evidence on dietary approaches for weight loss. It contains practical advice which GPs can use with their patients.

The presentation was created by collaboration with GPs and researching the current literature. The issues identified are summarised below.

Australians are overweight and that’s a problem

Rates of overweight and obesity are continuing to rise in Australia. In 2017–18, 2 in 3 (67%) adults were overweight or obese in (36% were overweight and 31% were obese). Excess weight, especially obesity, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers. As the level of excess weight increases, so does the risk of developing these conditions. In addition, being overweight can hamper the ability to control or manage chronic conditions. The main factors influencing overweight and obesity are poor diet and inadequate physical activity.1

GPs are in a good position to be able to mention weight

Australians access general practice more than any other area of the health system, with over 87.8% of the population visiting their GP at least once each year.2

GPs remain responsible for the frontline of healthcare. It is widely accepted that a GP is the person Australian patients trust most when it comes to their health and the health of their family.3

GPs are concerned about weight

The General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018 report revealed mental health and obesity are the areas of care which are causing GPs the most concern for the future.3

GPs generally do not feel comfortable or confident giving dietary advice for weight loss

Australian research highlights a lack of confidence among GPs in having discussions with their patients about overweight and obesity.4

A review of the clinical nutrition education of doctors and medical students found they have not received adequate training to give them confidence or competence in providing dietary advice.5-6

1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Overweight and Obesity, July 2019 Available at

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Patient experience in Australia: Summary of findings, 2016–17. Cat no. 4839.0. Canberra: ABS, 2017

3. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Health of the Nation 2018. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP. 2018. Available at

4. Glenister K, Malatzky C, Wright J. Barriers to effective conversations regarding overweight and obesity in regional Victoria. Aust Fam Physician 2017;46(4):769-773

5. Blunt S, Kafatos A. Clinical Nutrition Education of Doctors and Medical Students: Solving the Catch 22. Adv Nutr 2019;10:345–350

6. Crowley J, Ball L, Hiddink G. Nutrition care by primary-care physicians: advancing our understanding using the COM-B framework. Public Health Nutrition 2019;23(1):41-52