Only 1 in 10 Patients Told to Lose Weight Seek Help From a Health Professional: A Nationally Representative Sample

Hendrik ‘Dirk’ de Heer, Brian Kinslow, Taylor Lane, Ron Tuckman, Meghan Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Receiving weight loss advice from a health-care provider has been associated with more weight loss efforts and greater odds of achieving weight loss. However, whether patients seek help from their provider or other health professional with weight loss after receiving advice from them to lose weight is largely unknown. Design: Cross-sectional data from the 2011 to 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Sample: A total of 3862 overweight/obese adults. Measures: Questionnaires asked whether participants received advice to lose weight, and whether they sought health professional’s assistance with weight management. The NHANES 2011 to 2012 was the most recent year both questions were asked. Analysis: Accounting for NHANES sampling and design, frequency distributions characterized demographics and proportions. Logistic regressions estimated odds of seeking weight loss help by demographics. Results: Of 3682 overweight/obese adults, 1908 were told they were overweight or recommended to lose weight. Of 1908 people, 68% reported weight loss efforts, but only health 10.9% sought a health professional’s help (dietician/nutritionist 4.7%, personal trainer 3.0%, doctor 2.8%). Females, people with health insurance and high health-care utilization had 1.5 to 3.5 times greater odds of seeking help; age, ethnicity, and income were not significantly associated with seeking help with weight management. Conclusion: In a nationally representative sample, only 10.9% of overweight/obese adults told to lose weight by a provider sought help from a health professional with weight loss. This underscores the opportunity for greater health professional involvement with weight management beyond giving recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1052
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • obese
  • overweight
  • seeking care
  • weight management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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