Health care workers should screen all adult patients for weight problems and suggest intensive counseling for those who are obese, an influential government task force is recommending.

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said behavioral therapy and high-intensity counseling can yield a “modest, sustained weight loss” in obese people.

“Eating and exercising are behaviors in themselves and they’re behaviors that are difficult to change,” said Dr. Janet Allan, task force vice chair and dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

In a report being published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the task force analyzed previous studies of weight loss treatments and reviewed controlled trials involving counseling of obese adults.

It found that intense counseling and behavioral therapy can typically result in weight loss of 6.6 to 11 pounds after at least one year.

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