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

Published in JHHSA, Vol. 30 No. 4

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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