A NSW study has tackled the growing problem of obesity in Australians by looking at it from the patients' perspective.
The study, published in the latest edition of The Medical Journal of Australia, asked patients what help they wanted from their general practitioner (GP) about weight management.
Levels of overweight and obesity in Australia have risen to epidemic proportions over the past two decades.
Dr Daisy Tan, Advanced Academic GP Registrar of Fairfield Hospital and co-author of the study, said little is known about what advice patients want from their GPs.
The study explored patients' views on the role of GPs in weight management and the usefulness of weight-loss strategies, and asked whether they would follow advice from their GP about weight loss.
Of those surveyed, 78 per cent of patients felt their GP had a role in weight management, but fewer than half the patients felt that GPs have enough time to provide effective weight loss advice - a concern shared by GPs themselves.
Despite this, patients expressed positive views about receiving lifestyle advice from their GP, including dietary and physical activity guidelines.
"These options were favoured (by patients) over medications and referral to a dietitian," said Dr Tan.
"Studies of GPs have also shown reluctance to prescribe medications for weight loss to obese patients."
In addition, patients felt regular review was a useful component of weight-loss management.
"Obesity is a chronic condition and long-term support from health professionals is recommended in managing this problem," says Dr Tan.
"Better understanding of what patients want from their GPs will contribute to improved management and patient care."