Assessment of patients’ attitudes towards weight loss in an Irish general practice setting

Type Article

Journal Article


F. Coffey; T. I. Curran; C. Kenny; K. Holmes

Year of publication



Ir J Med Sci








BACKGROUND: Ireland is on course to become the most obese country in Europe by 2025. A recently published action plan for obesity in Ireland identifies primary care as one of the best places to tackle this issue. AIM: This study aims to assess patients' attitudes towards weight loss management in general practice in Ireland. DESIGN AND SETTING: A descriptive study was conducted at one urban single-handed and one rural group practice in the south west of Ireland. METHOD: The study is a quantitative cross-sectional survey. RESULTS: The response rate was 18.72% in the rural and 22.8% in the urban practice. Thirty-three percent of patients underestimated their BMI. Sixty-four percent of overweight and 39% of obese patients said their general practitioner (GP) had never discussed their weight with them. Eighty-five percent of overweight and 68% of obese patients were never told their weight might be affecting their health. Only 19% of obese patients had been referred to a weight loss service. Eighty-seven percent of respondents felt their GP would be a good person to advise them. The main reasons patients felt that their weight was not addressed include patients themselves only wanting to discuss the issue they came with and they also felt that time pressure was stopping GPs. CONCLUSION: Overweight or obese patients are more likely to underestimate their BMI. GPs are not discussing weight management with patients who would benefit the most. There is a poor referral rate to weight loss services. Patients are happy to discuss their weight with their GP but are aware that time management is an issue in their consultations.