Health Coaching Integration Into Primary Care for the Treatment of Obesity

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Health Coaching Integration Into Primary Care for the Treatment of Obesity

Obesity (and its related comorbidities) is one of the fastest-growing health concerns facing the United States and shows no sign of abating.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated that nearly 36% of American adults were obese in 2010 and estimates that this number will reach 44% by 2018.

The current standard of care for the management of patients with obesity in primary care is often a general recommendation by the physician to lose weight through improved nutrition and increased physical activity. Educational materials may be provided along with a referral to a dietician, nutritionist, or weight management program. Health coaching as an obesity intervention has yet to be fully integrated into primary care practice but has proven to be effective in corporate wellness and behavioral weight loss programs.

The Ambulatory Practice of the Future (APF) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston, puts the patient at the center of a highly collaborative team focusing on wellness and prevention while providing acute and chronic care. A major component of the partnership is the engagement of the patient in setting personal wellness goals and the use of health coaches.

Health coaches enable meaningful patient participation and create a context that allows the primary care team to understand wellness and disease from the patient’s perspective.

Global Advances in Health and Medicine, Volume 2, Number 4 • July 2013

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