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Improving weight by working together

A general practice assists overweight and obese patients by providing support and improving health literacy

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Staff at a practice identified overweight and obesity as a problem they wanted to tackle (67% of patients aged >40 years were overweight and obese). But the practice GPs felt frustrated in supporting patients to lose weight – their patients rarely took on or adhered to preventive advice. Patient health literacy was identified as a problem, the GPs agreed that many of their patients did not fully understand how much they should be eating or how to go about exercising.
At a staff meeting, each staff member contributed to the discussion regarding the issues faced. The practice nurse was interested in being more involved in weight management but lacked sufficient time to take patients through a structured program involving multiple sessions.

So, the following strategy was devised: As overweight and obese patients were identified by the GPs, they were offered an appointment with the practice nurse for a health check, which involved some brief education and goal-setting. The practice nurse then assisted the patients to register for free telephone weight management coaching provided by the state health department. The practice nurse then followed patients up after a few weeks to determine if they found it helpful and what progress they were making.

Prof Mark Harris, Green book Editorial Committee


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