Patients, health care professionals, and policymakers share responsibility for managing overweight

NIVEL: Jacqueline Tol dietetics

Many Dutch people are too heavy and would like to shed a few kilos. Overweight is an important social issue, and patients, general practitioners (GPs), dietitians, health care insurers, and policymakers share responsibility for improving weight management outcomes in primary health care. This has emerged from research conducted at the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL) by Jacqueline Tol for her doctoral thesis. She received her PhD from Tilburg University on November 6.

Although most adults who are overweight either don’t need or don’t want help losing weight, it is important that help is available to them – for example, from a dietitian – if they are unable to lose weight on their own. GPs can play an important role in this, for instance, by having more conversations with patients about the importance of having a healthy weight and referring them for dietary advice.
Insurance coverage
Currently, the Dutch basic health insurance package covers three hours of dietary advice. “When there was a reduction in the hours covered, we noticed that many people no longer went to see a dietitian,” says Jacqueline Tol. “Therefore, it’s important that health care insurers and policymakers make sure there is sufficient coverage for dietary advice. And it’s also important that dietitians continue to focus on their patients’ motivation to change their behaviour. When people see a dietitian for at least six months, the results are generally positive.”
The results from this thesis were based on information obtained from questionnaires completed by health care professionals from various target groups and data contained in electronic patient records from the practices of primary health care dietitians.
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
Nederlandse Vereniging van Diëtisten