Obesity treatment: a role for occupational therapists?

Christina Jessen-Winge*, Pia Maria Ilvig, Hans Jonsson, Heather Fritz, Kim Lee, Jeanette Reffstrup Christensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Half of the Danish population is overweight or obese. Obesity can negatively impact health and daily life. The Danish National Board of Health´s guidelines for weight loss programmes to the Danish municipalities, recommends multidisciplinary teams, including occupational therapy, and interventions targeting diet, exercise, psychosocial coping, and everyday life. Aim: To describe the structure and content of obesity programmes offered by the 98 municipalities in Denmark, including details such as the health professionals, programme recipients, dose, structure, content, and the role of occupational therapists. Method: A quantitative content analysis was conducted on 234 published Danish municipal weight loss programmes. Programme descriptions were identified through internet searches using both sundhed.dk and Google.com. Results: Various health professionals conducted the programmes, and five involved occupational therapists. Programmes targeted children, adolescent and adults. Dose, structure and content were heterogeneous. Conclusion: The majority of the programmes were neither evidence-based, nor did they follow recommendations from Danish National Board of Health. Few programmes addressed the role of habits or social participation. Occupational therapists appear to be under-utilized as providers of the programmes. Significance: Occupational therapists have a role to play in weight loss programmes, because of their training in activity analysis and their consideration of people, environments, and occupations. These components are included in the recommendations about psychosocial aspects and everyday life from the Danish National Board of Health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)471-478
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Obesity/therapy
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Overweight
  • Weight Loss


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