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Overweight "most frequent visitor to GP"

GPs are more likely to be visited by people who are overweight than those who smoke or who are unfit, according to Dutch scientists.

GP data for around 4,500 adults was analysed by scientists at Maastricht University. A questionnaire was also filled in by those taking part, detailing their food, alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as the amount of exercise they take.

The scientists said that although they expected the most unfit and unhealthy people to be the ones who saw a doctor most often, an individual's BMI seemed to be the single determining factor connected to frequent GP visits. This was true for women and men, whose chronic illnesses seemed to play no part in explaining the frequency of visits.

The researchers said overweight people probably visit their doctor more often because of more minor complaints such as musculoskeletal pain or problems with sleeping.

Marjan van den Akker, who led the research, said more studies are needed to more accurately explain frequent GP attendance.

The findings are published in the Family Practice journal.

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