Patients who receive a recommendation by their physician or other healthcare professional to lose weight are more likely to report a reduction in weight the following year, reports a new study in the journal Economics & Human Biology.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey, Joshua Berning of the University of Georgia sought to evaluate the impact of advice about weight loss from a physician or healthcare professional on weight outcomes. A subsample of patients with arthritis (n=25,117) were asked in the survey if they had even received the recommendation to lose weight due to their arthritis from a physician or healthcare professional. The participants also reported their current weight and weight in the prior year. Those who had received this recommendation reported an average weight loss of 10lb loss for women and 12lbs for men over a one-year period after controlling for covariates.

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Berning believes that the success of the recommendation from a healthcare professional is due to their ability to tailor advice based on multiple factors (such as comorbidities) beyond body mass index. This type of personalized medicine can help patients in better understanding their health trajectory and ways to improve it, including weight loss.

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