Dietary and Behavioural Interventions in the Management of Obesity

  • Clare Grace
  • Adrian BrownEmail author


Obesity is a chronic, often progressive disease, with a complex web of psychological, social, and biological factors underpinning why people overeat, struggle to be active, and gain excess body weight and adiposity. As such its management is not simply about eating less and exercising more, rather there is a need to understand the drivers to excess weight gain with comprehensive assessment identifying modifiable factors. Multicomponent programmes including dietary treatment, physical activity, and behaviour modification are more effective than interventions focusing on one aspect alone (Avenell et al. 2004). Rather than one superior dietary intervention there are a range of effective evidence-based treatments that can be matched to patient preferences and the presence and/or severity of comorbid disease. Behavioural modification focuses on patient-centred care, incorporating motivational, behavioural, and cognitive elements and recognizes that nurse’s attitudes and skills can have a profound effect on patient outcomes.

Nurses are on the frontline of obesity management raising the issue of weight where appropriate, undertaking assessment of patient’s complex needs, signposting to services and providing education and support for weight loss and maintenance. Given the escalating prevalence of obesity, it is essential that nurses have a comprehensive understanding of how best to treat this condition. Obesity management is particularly relevant in the endocrine setting given the range of conditions closely linked with excess weight, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) or polycystic ovarian syndrome, and in which comprehensive management may improve associated symptoms and risks.

Qualitative research exploring nursing beliefs about their role in managing obesity identify its assigned importance but highlight the desire for more obesity training, an infrastructure which supports high quality care, a greater understanding of evidence-based treatments, and improved access to resources (Nolan et al. 2012).

This chapter addresses some of these concerns, presenting an overview of the evidence base related to dietary and behavioural modification in obesity management, considers the assessment process, and highlights training opportunities and educational resources where appropriate.


Weight bias Multicomponent Comprehensive assessment Dietary interventions Self-monitoring Motivation Expectations 



Body mass index


Cognitive behavioural therapy


Cardiovascular disease


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders


Glycaemic index


Glycaemic load


Glycated haemoglobin


Intermittent energy restriction


Low carbohydrate


Low density lipoprotein


Low energy diet


Motivational interviewing


Meal replacements


National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence


Physical activity level


Type 2 diabetes


Total diet replacement


Very low energy diet


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Relish Nutrition ConsultancyNorth YorkshireUK
  2. 2.University College LondonLondonUK

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