Primary care providers may be taking a fundamentally flawed approach in their treatment of patients with obesity, according to new research by Associate Professor of Kinesiology Karl F. Kozlowski, PhD.
The study found that despite being “optimally positioned” to prescribe lifestyle medicine, including exercise and nutrition, primary care providers instead rely heavily on weight loss pharmaceuticals and bariatric surgeries to treat obesity. This approach, Kozlowski says, “does little to prevent and treat the accumulation of chronic diseases.”
Further findings from the study suggest that primary care providers may be uncomfortable prescribing lifestyle medicine, as they receive little formal education in this area. Kozlowski acknowledges that educating physicians and changing how they prescribe exercise and nutrition is “just the first step of reforming primary care” to combat chronic disease. Patient behavior change is also paramount to the success of lifestyle medicine.
Kozlowski’s research, titled “The Underutilization of Lifestyle Modifications in Primary Care Medicine,” was published in the Journal of Exercise Medicine. He co-authored the study with former student Jean-Marc Lucas ’18.