GPs a leading source of weight and nutrition info: survey


The General Practitioner is one of the most popular sources of health and nutrition information, especially for people in regional areas, according to new survey results from LiveLighter.

On average, more than a third of Victorians (36%) reported turning to their GP for health and nutrition advice.

This places GPs ahead of the Australian Dietary Guidelines (31%) and dietitians and nutritionists (22%), making them the second most popular go-to for health and nutrition advice.

According to the LiveLighter survey of more than 1000 Australians aged 25-49, friends and family were the overall favourite, with 41% of people turning to theirs to learn more about nutrition.

But in regional Victoria GPs were the number one source (38%), equal with friends and family (37%).

LiveLighter Campaign Manager Alison McAleese said these findings show just how influential GPs are in helping patients prevent obesity-related conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and 13 types of cancer.

“Weight management can be a difficult topic for a GP to navigate, even without the lack of resources and time available to support patients to achieve a healthier weight,” said Ms McAleese.

“Medicare doesn’t incentivise lifestyle interventions in the same way it does diabetes treatment, for example.

“Time can also be an issue. Often, people see their GP for a specific, acute issue, not to talk about their lifestyle more broadly. So a typical 15-minute consultation doesn’t often allow enough time to expand the conversation.”

General Practice Registrar Dr Gihan Jayaweera said given the health implications of obesity, it's important doctors feel well equipped to speak on weight management and nutrition.

"I absolutely love talking about lifestyle intervention because it empowers the patient to take control of their own health," Dr Jayaweera said.

Dr Jayaweera felt doctors needed to work with the patient to brainstorm strategies to improve their lifestyle, rather than just prescribe a list of interventions for them.

“Having a brainstorm style chat about their lifestyle more broadly gives patients the opportunity to articulate areas of their health they would like to change, such as weight or diet," he said.

“Asking questions like ‘In what way does what you eat or drink affect your health?’ is a great way to start an open discussion about someone's eating habits.”

LiveLighter has a range of resources doctors and clinics can use to help make weight management a routine part of care. Patients can also create their own LiveLighter online account and receive a meal plan tailored specifically for them.

Unsure how to speak to your patients about weight? Check out LiveLighter’s top tips below

  • Use open-ended questions
    • As tempting as it may be to jump straight in with advice, you’re likely to have more success by starting with some open questions, like “How do you feel about your current eating pattern?” or “how would you describe your lifestyle at the moment?”
    • This creates ambivalence, which provides an opening for the patient to articulate areas of their health they are dissatisfied with. 
  • Introduce a weight management policy for your clinic
    • Work with your practice manager and other doctors and nurses to incorporate weight management advice into usual practice, for example, weighing all patients, continuing to weigh regular patients annually.
    • When weight management is part of routine care, patients will expect these conversations as a normal part of seeing their GP.
  • Congratulate them for keeping the weight off
    • Congratulating patients who are maintaining their weight and continuing to discuss their lifestyle habits can encourage them to continue their healthy behaviours.
  • Build your skills
    • LiveLighter delivers workshops for health professionals to learn how to approach weight management guidelines with patients. Training explores weight management guidelines and recommendations, as well as practical tips for discussing healthy eating and physical activity. For more information visit the LiveLighter website.

What the LiveLighter survey found

Where do people get their health and nutrition information?

Victoria (overall)


Regional Victoria





General practitioner




Australian Dietary Guidelines








Cooking shows on the television








News and current affair television programs




Internet blogs




Social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram)




The LiveLighter survey involved 1,097 Victorian adults aged 18-64 years via an online panel.

About LiveLighter: LiveLighter is a public health education campaign which encourages Australians to lead healthier lives by changing what they eat and drink and being more active.

In Victoria, the LiveLighter campaign is delivered by Cancer Council VIC. In Western Australia, the LiveLighter campaign is delivered by Heart Foundation WA and Cancer Council WA and is funded by the State Government of Western Australia. For more information visit

Spokespeople available for interview:

  • LiveLighter Campaign Manager and Dietitian: Alison McAleese, Vic

For further information please contact:

Joanna Cooney M: 0423049322 E: