Helping patients make permanent, healthy changes to their eating habits is an essential component in the multidisciplinary approach to the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity.
Although many health professionals recognize the importance of dietary management, research suggests that difficulty often arises in the translation of general nutritional messages into specific food changes, which are practical and realistic for patients to implement over the longer term. 1 Such difficulty may be related to inadequate training in nutrition and dietetics; a subject which rarely receives sufficient attention in undergraduate and postgraduate education, particularly among the medical profession. 2 Even fewer health professionals have received training which specifically addresses the knowledge and skills required for the management of the overweight and obese.
This chapter outlines the principles of dietary management in overweight and obese adults, the various treatment approaches available and, importantly, provides practical guidance on helping patients make, and sustain, healthier food choices.