Rising obesity levels could result in more nurses taking on greater responsibility in order to take the pressure off overwhelmed GPs, a study has found.
Dutch researchers found that overweight people are more likely to visit their GP than smokers or the unfit, while the reasons for their visits are often unrelated to chronic diseases such as diabetes which are traditionally linked with obesity.
The team from Maastricht University looked at the lifestyles of some 4,500 adults who visited their GP in order to build a profile of which factors were associated with frequent visits to the doctor.
They found that an individual’s BMI was the only factor that could be linked to frequent GP visits that were unrelated to chronic illnesses.
Study leader Dr Marjan van den Akker said the research team could not say definitively why overweight people required more visits to their GPs than other patient groups, but speculated that minor complaints such as sleep problems and musculoskeletal pains could account for higher visit rates.