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Dietitians play effective role in weight loss process


Washington: According to new research, intensive behavioural therapy from dietitians may be a very effective way for older Americans to lose weight.

The primary objectives of the study published in the Family Practice journal were to examine the integration of registered dietitian nutritionist-provided intensive behavioural therapy for obesity into a primary care setting and evaluate clinic outcomes for Medicare patients.

Patients undergoing intensive behavioural therapy for obesity met with a registered dietitian once every week for the first month, and once every other week for the next six months, and if the patient lost weight then once a month for an additional six months to discuss challenges and lifestyle changes.

The patients and the dietitians discussed behavioural health risks and factors affecting their choices. The dietitians recommended clear, specific, and personalized advice and the dietitians and the patients worked together to pick goals and methods to achieve them, and the two arranged to follow up meetings to discuss progress and challenges.


The study was a retrospective chart review of therapy sessions conducted at a rural family medicine clinic in eastern North Carolina for patients between 2016 and 2019. Patients were female, had Medicare insurance, and a Body Mass Index above 30. A total of 2,097 female patients met the criteria for eligibility for the therapy.

The analysis showed statistically significant improvements in clinical outcomes from intensive behavioural therapy treatment. Patients in the treatment group lost, on average, 2.66 lbs, roughly 1.22 lbs per intensive behavioural therapy visit, compared to patients in the control group who gained an average of 0.5 lbs. Body Mass Index and A1C (average blood sugar) declined for intensive behavioural therapy patients. Patients also took prescription medication an average of six days less than the control group.

This study suggested that the advantages of dietitian-provided intensive behavioural therapy extend beyond weight loss to include associated benefits for Medicare patients.

Lauren Sastre, one of the paper’s authors said: “We are excited about our findings, which demonstrated registered dietitian nutritionist delivered intensive behavioural therapy for obesity to Medicare beneficiaries is effective and beneficial for patients. This particularly important in light of the growing pressure on providers to track and demonstrate improved Medicare patient outcomes, which include weight status.”

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