New survey shows positive impact on GPs’ skills and confidence to discuss weight management with patients


A new survey has found LiveLighter’s training program for health professionals gave doctors greater confidence when it comes to discussing weight management with their patients.

Following LiveLighter’s one-day “Talking to Patients About Weight” workshops, 95% of health professionals reported the topics covered were highly relevant to their practice and 76% reported they use knowledge gained from the training on a daily basis.

These findings will be presented today (Friday 18 October) at the Australia & New Zealand Obesity Society conference in Sydney.

While General Practitioners (GPs) are often seen as the most popular source of health and nutrition information[1], lack of time and confidence can be barriers to discussing weight management and healthy lifestyles with patients.

LiveLighter Campaign Manager and Dietitian, Alison McAleese, said the results demonstrated the importance of empowering GPs to have conversations about maintaining a healthy weight with their patients.

“We know that talking to patients about weight can be difficult to navigate. People often see their GP for a specific health issue, so bringing up their lifestyle more broadly can be a challenge.”

“Given the health implications of being above a healthy weight including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and 13 types of cancer, we want to provide GPs with the skills and confidence to support their patients.”

161 health professionals completed the one-day training course, including 102 working in general practice. Attendees completed a survey before the training, on completion and 12 weeks afterwards.

In the pre-workshop interviews, the GPs identified several barriers to discussing weight with patients, including not wanting to offend, embarrass or blame the patient and not knowing how to initiate such a conversation.

  • Nearly all of those surveyed (95%) stated the topic of weight management was highly relevant to their practice.
  • Three quarters (76%) reported they use knowledge gained from the training frequently or daily.
  • Over half (59%) stated that the patient resources provided in the training were of most value.
  • Over half (57%) found the motivational interviewing the most valuable part of the training. Before the training nearly half of participants had never used motivational interview techniques.

Ms McAleese hopes the successful results from this training will inspire more health professionals to make weight management a routine part of care.

“GPs are well-positioned to play a vital role in addressing overweight and obesity, and helping patients make healthy changes to reduce their risk of chronic disease.” Having a two-way conversation with patients about their lifestyle more broadly can give them the opportunity to articulate areas of their health they would like to change, such as weight or diet.”

LiveLighter has a range of resources for health professionals and clinics to support them in discussing weight management and lifestyle conversations with their patients. Patients can also create their own LiveLighter online account and receive a meal plan tailored specifically for them.

About LiveLighter’s training for health professionals:

LiveLighter delivers workshops for health professionals across Victoria 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. Training sessions for 2019 have concluded. For more information and soon to be announced dates for 2020 visit the LiveLighter website.

[1] LiveLighter Public vs. Expert opinions: What foods and dietary practices are healthy?