Panal Suggests Screening Patients For Obesity

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has suggested that patients be screened for obesity by physicians.

The panel has suggested measuring the BMI ( Body Mass Index ) of adult patients.

A BMI of 30 or more would indicate that a patient is obese while a BMI of 25 or less is normal.

For patients whose BMI is 30 or higher, the task force advises physicians to refer them to weight-loss programs that use multicomponent behavioral interventions — in other words, those that combine nutritional counseling with exercise and support groups. In reviewing current studies on such programs, the government panel found that on average, they helped participants lose up to 11 lbs. over a year, or 4% of their starting weight. Even such seemingly modest reductions in initial weight can significantly improve health for obese people.

Overall, the task force found that the best weight-loss programs include 12 to 26 sessions of behavioral counseling during the first year; help patients self-monitor their eating and exercise, using food diaries or a pedometer, for instance; focus on setting realistic weight-loss goals; and help patients understand what may be preventing them from meeting those goals.

While it is projected that by 2030 forty percent of American adults will be overweight or obese, doctors are not trained to counsel patients on matters of nutrition or weight management.

Doctors who are struggling with weight issues of their own have even greater difficulty addressing weight with their patients.

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