A simple 30-second chat with a doctor can help people lose weight, a study has found.
Patients may lose up to 10 per cent of their body weight if their GP offers them a free weight-loss programme.
Researchers from the University of Oxford said a simple chat could have a huge impact on Britain’s obesity problem if every GP did it.
The results of the study were published in the Lancet medical journal.
More than 2,700 severely overweight people took part in the trial.
Each one visited their GP for an unrelated health condition, but was asked by the doctor if they could talk about their weight.
Half of the patients were offered a free place on a weight-loss scheme such as Weight Watchers or Rosemary Conley.
Even though only one in four turned up at the programme, a quarter of patients lost five per cent of their weight and one in ten lost 10 per cent after a year.
The average weight loss was 2.4kg (5.3lb).
The other half of the patients were told they could do with losing weight but were offered no support.
Their average weight loss was 1kg (2.2lb) after 12 months.
Prof Paul Aveyard, from the University of Oxford, and also a GP, told the BBC: “The impact is pretty substantial given the effort - 30 seconds - that went into it.
“If we were year-on-year to knock 2.4kg off the heaviest people in society then that would have a very big effect in health terms.”
(Main picture: Rex)