Screening and brief intervention for obesity in primary care: a parallel, two-arm, randomised trial


Obesity is a common cause of non-communicable disease. Guidelines recommend that physicians screen and offer brief advice to motivate weight loss through referral to behavioural weight loss programmes. However, physicians rarely intervene and no trials have been done on the subject. We did this trial to establish whether physician brief intervention is acceptable and effective for reducing bodyweight in patients with obesity.


In this parallel, two-arm, randomised trial, patients who consulted 137 primary care physicians in England were screened for obesity. Individuals could be enrolled if they were aged at least 18 years, had a body-mass index of at least 30 kg/m2 (or at least 25 kg/m2 if of Asian ethnicity), and had a raised body fat percentage. At the end of the consultation, the physician randomly assigned participants (1:1) to one of two 30 s interventions. Randomisation was done via preprepared randomisation cards labelled with a code representing the allocation, which were placed in opaque sealed envelopes and given to physicians to open at the time of treatment assignment. In the active intervention, the physician offered referral to a weight management group (12 sessions of 1 h each, once per week) and, if the referral was accepted, the physician ensured the patient made an appointment and offered follow-up. In the control intervention, the physician advised the patient that their health would benefit from weight loss. The primary outcome was weight change at 12 months in the intention-to-treat population, which was assessed blinded to treatment allocation. We also assessed asked patients’ about their feelings on discussing their weight when they have visited their general practitioner for other reasons. Given the nature of the intervention, we did not anticipate any adverse events in the usual sense, so safety outcomes were not assessed. This trial is registered with the ISRCTN Registry, number ISRCTN26563137.


Between June 4, 2013, and Dec 23, 2014, we screened 8403 patients, of whom 2728 (32%) were obese. Of these obese patients, 2256 (83%) agreed to participate and 1882 were eligible, enrolled, and included in the intention-to-treat analysis, with 940 individuals in the support group and 942 individuals in the advice group. 722 (77%) individuals assigned to the support intervention agreed to attend the weight management group and 379 (40%) of these individuals attended, compared with 82 (9%) participants who were allocated the advice intervention. In the entire study population, mean weight change at 12 months was 2·43 kg with the support intervention and 1·04 kg with the advice intervention, giving an adjusted difference of 1·43 kg (95% CI 0·89–1·97). The reactions of the patients to the general practitioners’ brief interventions did not differ significantly between the study groups in terms of appropriateness (adjusted odds ratio 0·89, 95% CI 0·75–1·07, p=0·21) or helpfulness (1·05, 0·89–1·26, p=0·54); overall, four (<1%) patients thought their intervention was inappropriate and unhelpful and 1530 (81%) patients thought it was appropriate and helpful.


A behaviourally-informed, very brief, physician-delivered opportunistic intervention is acceptable to patients and an effective way to reduce population mean weight.


The UK National Prevention Research Initiative.

Association of Pharmacological Treatments for Obesity With Weight Loss and Adverse Events A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Importance  Five medications have been approved for the management of obesity, but data on comparative effectiveness are limited.

Objective  To compare weight loss and adverse events among drug treatments for obesity using a systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Scopus, and Cochrane Central from inception to March 23, 2016; clinical trial registries.

Study Selection  Randomized clinical trials conducted among overweight and obese adults treated with US Food and Drug Administration–approved long-term weight loss agents (orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, phentermine-topiramate, or liraglutide) for at least 1 year compared with another active agent or placebo.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two investigators identified studies and independently abstracted data using a predefined protocol. A Bayesian network meta-analysis was performed and relative ranking of agents was assessed using surface under the cumulative ranking (SUCRA) probabilities. Quality of evidence was assessed using GRADE criteria.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Proportions of patients with at least 5% weight loss and at least 10% weight loss, magnitude of decrease in weight, and discontinuation of therapy because of adverse events at 1 year.

Results  Twenty-eight randomized clinical trials with 29 018 patients (median age, 46 years; 74% women; median baseline body weight, 100.5 kg; median baseline body mass index, 36.1) were included. A median 23% of placebo participants had at least 5% weight loss vs 75% of participants taking phentermine-topiramate (odds ratio [OR], 9.22; 95% credible interval [CrI], 6.63-12.85; SUCRA, 0.95), 63% of participants taking liraglutide (OR, 5.54; 95% CrI, 4.16-7.78; SUCRA, 0.83), 55% taking naltrexone-bupropion (OR, 3.96; 95% CrI, 3.03-5.11; SUCRA, 0.60), 49% taking lorcaserin (OR, 3.10; 95% CrI, 2.38-4.05; SUCRA, 0.39), and 44% taking orlistat (OR, 2.70; 95% CrI, 2.34-3.09; SUCRA, 0.22). All active agents were associated with significant excess weight loss compared with placebo at 1 year—phentermine-topiramate, 8.8 kg (95% CrI, −10.20 to −7.42 kg); liraglutide, 5.3 kg (95% CrI, −6.06 to −4.52 kg); naltrexone-bupropion, 5.0 kg (95% CrI, −5.94 to −3.96 kg); lorcaserin, 3.2 kg (95% CrI, −3.97 to −2.46 kg); and orlistat, 2.6 kg (95% CrI, −3.04 to −2.16 kg). Compared with placebo, liraglutide (OR, 2.95; 95% CrI, 2.11-4.23) and naltrexone-bupropion (OR, 2.64; 95% CrI, 2.10-3.35) were associated with the highest odds of adverse event–related treatment discontinuation. High attrition rates (30%-45% in all trials) were associated with lower confidence in estimates.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among overweight or obese adults, orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, phentermine-topiramate, and liraglutide, compared with placebo, were each associated with achieving at least 5% weight loss at 52 weeks. Phentermine-topiramate and liraglutide were associated with the highest odds of achieving at least 5% weight loss.

JAMA. 2016;315(22):2424-2434.

Effect of Caloric Restriction or Aerobic Exercise Training on Peak Oxygen Consumption and Quality of Life in Obese Older Patients With Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Importance  More than 80% of patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF), the most common form of heart failure among older persons, are overweight or obese. Exercise intolerance is the primary symptom of chronic HFPEF and a major determinant of reduced quality of life (QOL).

Objective  To determine whether caloric restriction (diet) or aerobic exercise training (exercise) improves exercise capacity and QOL in obese older patients with HFPEF.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Randomized, attention-controlled, 2 × 2 factorial trial conducted from February 2009 through November 2014 in an urban academic medical center. Of 577 initially screened participants, 100 older obese participants (mean [SD]: age, 67 years [5]; body mass index, 39.3 [5.6]) with chronic, stable HFPEF were enrolled (366 excluded by inclusion and exclusion criteria, 31 for other reasons, and 80 declined participation).

Interventions  Twenty weeks of diet, exercise, or both; attention control consisted of telephone calls every 2 weeks.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Exercise capacity measured as peak oxygen consumption (V̇o2, mL/kg/min; co–primary outcome) and QOL measured by the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure (MLHF) Questionnaire (score range: 0–105, higher scores indicate worse heart failure–related QOL; co–primary outcome).

Results  Of the 100 enrolled participants, 26 participants were randomized to exercise; 24 to diet; 25 to exercise + diet; 25 to control. Of these, 92 participants completed the trial. Exercise attendance was 84% (SD, 14%) and diet adherence was 99% (SD, 1%). By main effects analysis, peak V̇o2 was increased significantly by both interventions: exercise, 1.2 mL/kg body mass/min (95% CI, 0.7 to 1.7), P < .001; diet, 1.3 mL/kg body mass/min (95% CI, 0.8 to 1.8), P < .001. The combination of exercise + diet was additive (complementary) for peak V̇o2 (joint effect, 2.5 mL/kg/min). There was no statistically significant change in MLHF total score with exercise and with diet (main effect: exercise, −1 unit [95% CI, −8 to 5], P = .70; diet, −6 units [95% CI, −12 to 1],P = .08). The change in peak V̇o2 was positively correlated with the change in percent lean body mass (r = 0.32; P = .003) and the change in thigh muscle:intermuscular fat ratio (r = 0.27; P = .02). There were no study-related serious adverse events. Body weight decreased by 7% (7 kg [SD, 1]) in the diet group, 3% (4 kg [SD, 1]) in the exercise group, 10% (11 kg [SD, 1] in the exercise + diet group, and 1% (1 kg [SD, 1]) in the control group.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among obese older patients with clinically stable HFPEF, caloric restriction or aerobic exercise training increased peak V̇o2, and the effects may be additive. Neither intervention had a significant effect on quality of life as measured by the MLHF Questionnaire.

Trial Registration Identifier: NCT00959660

Dalane W. Kitzman et al, JAMA. 2016;315(1):36-46

Cardiometabolic Risks and Severity of Obesity in Children and Young Adults

Background The prevalence of severe obesity among children and young adults has increased over the past decade. Although the prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors is relatively low among children and young adults who are overweight or obese, those with more severe forms of obesity may be at greater risk.

Methods We performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from overweight or obese children and young adults 3 to 19 years of age who were included in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 through 2012 to assess the prevalence of multiple cardiometabolic risk factors according to the severity of obesity. Weight status was classified on the basis of measured height and weight. We used standard definitions of abnormal values for total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, lowdensity lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, glycated hemoglobin, and fasting glucose and report the prevalence of abnormal values in children and young adults according to weight status.

Results Among 8579 children and young adults with a body-mass index at the 85th percentile or higher (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts), 46.9% were overweight, 36.4% had class I obesity, 11.9% had class II obesity, and 4.8% had class III obesity. Mean values for some, but not all, cardiometabolic variables were higher with greater severity of obesity in both male and female participants, and the values were higher in male participants than in female participants; for HDL cholesterol, the mean values were lower with greater severity of obesity. Multivariable models that controlled for age, race or ethnic group, and sex showed that the greater the severity of obesity, the higher the risks of a low HDL cholesterol level, high systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and high triglyceride and glycated hemoglobin levels.

Conclusions Severe obesity in children and young adults was associated with an increased prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors, particularly among boys and young men.

Cardiometabolic Risks and Severity of Obesity in Children and Young Adults by Asheley C. Skinner, et al. N Engl J Med 2015; 373:1307-1317 October 1, 2015

Bariatric–metabolic surgery versus conventional medical treatment in obese patients with type 2 diabetes: 5 year follow-up of an open-label, single-centre, randomised controlled trial

Background Randomised controlled trials have shown that bariatric surgery is more effective than conventional treatment for the short-term control of type-2 diabetes. However, published studies are characterised by a relatively short follow-up. We aimed to assess 5 year outcomes from our randomised trial designed to compare surgery with conventional medical treatment for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in obese patients.

Methods We did our open-label, randomised controlled trial at one diabetes centre in Italy. Patients aged 30–60 years with a body-mass index of 35 kg/m2 or more and a history of type 2 diabetes lasting at least 5 years were randomly assigned (1:1:1), via a computergenerated randomisation procedure, to receive either medical treatment or surgery by Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or biliopancreatic diversion. Participants were aware of treatment allocation before the operation and study investigators were aware from the point of randomisation. The primary endpoint was the rate of diabetes remission at 2 years, defined as a glycated haemaglobin A1c (HbA1c) concentration of 6·5% or less (≤47·5 mmol/mol) and a fasting glucose concentration of 5·6 mmol/L or less without active pharmacological treatment for 1 year. Here we analyse glycaemic and metabolic control, cardiovascular risk, medication use, quality of life, and long-term complications 5 years after randomisation. Analysis was by intention to treat for the primary endpoint and by per protocol for the 5 year follow-up. This study is registered with, number NCT00888836.

Findings Between April 27, 2009, and Oct 31, 2009, we randomly assigned 60 patients to receive either medical treatment (n=20) or surgery by gastric bypass (n=20) or biliopancreatic diversion (n=20); 53 (88%) patients completed 5 years’ follow-up. Overall, 19 (50%) of the 38 surgical patients (seven [37%] of 19 in the gastric bypass group and 12 [63%] of 19 in the bilipancreatic diversion group) maintained diabetes remission at 5 years, compared with none of the 15 medically treated patients (p=0·0007). We recorded relapse of hyperglycaemia in eight (53%) of the 15 patients who achieved 2 year remission in the gastric bypass group and seven (37%) of the 19 patients who achieved 2 year remission in the biliopancreatic diversion group. Eight (42%) patients who underwent gastric bypass and 13 (68%) patients who underwent biliopancreatic diversion had an HbA1c concentration of 6·5% or less (≤47·5 mmol/mol) with or without medication, compared with four (27%) medically treated patients (p=0·0457). Surgical patients lost more weight than medically treated patients, but weight changes did not predict diabetes remission or relapse after surgery. Both surgical procedures were associated with significantly lower plasma lipids, cardiovascular risk, and medication use. Five major complications of diabetes (including one fatal myocardial infarction) arose in four (27%) patients in the medical group compared with only one complication in the gastric bypass group and no complications in the biliopancreatic diversion group. No late complications or deaths occurred in the surgery groups. Nutritional side-effects were noted mainly after biliopancreatic diversion.

Interpretation Surgery is more effective than medical treatment for the long-term control of obese patients with type 2 diabetes and should be considered in the treatment algorithm of this disease. However, continued monitoring of glycaemic control is warranted because of potential relapse of hyperglycaemia.

Bariatric–metabolic surgery versus conventional medical treatment in obese patients with type 2 diabetes: 5 year follow-up of an open-label, single-centre, randomised controlled trial by Geltrude Mingrone, et al. The Lancet, Volume 386, No. 9997, p964–973, 5 September 2015