The results of the clinic weight-loss trial, funded federally, were modest in general. But of the more than 300 obese individuals who participated in the associated study, those who stayed in close contact with their primary care givers made the biggest gains in their work to lose weight.

The study was conducted by researchers from John Hopkins University and published in the Aug. 21 edition of Patient Education and Counseling.

People often join commercially run weight-loss programs without informing their doctors of their participation in them, noted  Wendy L. Bennett, assistant professor of medicine at the university's school of medicine and a primary care physician.

"This trial supports other evidence that providers are very important in their patients' weight loss efforts," Bennett said, later adding: "Incorporating physicians into future programs might lead patients to more successful weight loss." 

Researchers polled 347 obese people, all of whom had diabetes or high cholesterol or high blood pressure. 

Though all of the respondents considered their relationships with their primary physicians to be high in quality, those who rated their doctors the "highest" in the study's "helpfulness" category enjoyed the most weight loss. The loss about 11 pounds on average, while the rest of the bunch averaged about 5 pounds dropped.

Along with highlighting the important of a strong doctor-patient relationship, Bennett suggested that the research could prompt a change in healthcare reimbursement models in which insurers would account for the degree of physician involvement with a customer. 

Bennett and her team echoed the sentiments of other John Hopkins University researchers, who found stressed the need for people to communicate their diets to doctors. 

In a study that ran in the April 26 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers reviewed thousands of weight-loss programs and concluded that just a had full of them were backed by sufficient science. And that makes it imperative that people tell their doctors about any weight-loss plans they're considering, according to Kimberly Gudzune, a weight-loss specialist and an assistant professor at the university's School of Medicine.

"Primary care doctors need to know what programs have rigorous trials showing that they work, but they haven't had much evidence to rely on," Gudzune said. "Our review should give clinicians a better idea of what programs they might consider for their patients."

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