Disparities in Who Receives Weight-Loss Advice From a Health Care Provider: Does Income Make a Difference?
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Disparities in Who Receives Weight-Loss Advice From a Health Care Provider: Does Income Make a Difference?

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    The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all patients be screened for obesity and, if needed, be provided weight-loss advice. However, the prevalence of such advice is low and varies by patient demographics. This study aimed to describe the determinants of receiving weight-loss advice among a sample with a high proportion of low-income, racial/ethnic minority individuals.


    Data were collected from a telephone survey of 1,708 households in 2009 and 2010 in 5 cities in New Jersey. Analyses were limited to 1,109 overweight or obese adults. Multivariate logistic regression determined the association of participants’ characteristics with receiving weight-loss advice from their health care provider. Two models were used to determine differences by income and insurance status.


    Of all overweight or obese respondents, 35% reported receiving advice to lose weight. Receiving advice was significantly associated with income in multivariate analysis. Compared with those with an income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL), those within 200% to 399% of the FPL had 1.60 higher odds of receiving advice (P = .02), and those with an income of 400% or more of the FPL had 1.73 higher odds of receiving advice (P = .03). The strength of the association did not change after adjusting for health insurance.


    Income is a significant predictor of whether or not overweight or obese adults receive weight-loss advice after adjustment for demographic variables, health status, and insurance status. Further work is needed to examine why disparities exist in who receives weight-loss advice. Health care providers should provide weight-loss advice to all patients, regardless of income.

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