Intensive behavioral counseling in primary care settings may provide clinically meaningful weight loss benefits to overweight and obese patients, according to the results of a recent study.
The systematic review, published in the November 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, assessed the results of 12 previous trials that evaluated the effectiveness of behavioral counseling and therapy conducted by primary care practitioners or trained interventionists in promoting weight loss in overweight or obese patients.
The results of the study indicated that behavioral treatment resulted in greater weight loss after 6 months, ranging from a loss of 0.3 to 6.6 kg compared with a gain of 0.9 kg to a loss of 2.0 kg in patients who did not receive counseling. Additionally, interventions that prescribed both reduced energy intake and increased physical activity, along with behavioral therapy, generally achieved greater weight loss than those without all 3 components.
The authors concluded that “Intensive behavioral counseling can induce clinically meaningful weight loss,” and that a “range of trained interventionists…could be considered for treating overweight or obesity in patients encountered in primary care settings.” However, they also noted that “There is little research on primary care practitioners providing such care,” emphasizing the need for future studies to identify the proper qualifications and training required as well as the efficacy and costs of different evidence-based strategies for weight loss.