• December 26, 2014

Doctors told to get serious about obesity in their patients

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 3:22 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

ATLANTA — Next time you go for a checkup, don’t be surprised if your doctor gets on your case about your weight.

The medical profession issued new guidelines for fighting the nation’s obesity epidemic, and they urge physicians to be a lot more aggressive about helping patients drop those extra pounds.

Doctors should calculate your body mass index, a weight-to-height ratio. And if you need to lose weight, they should come up with a plan and send you for counseling.

“We recognize that telling patients to lose weight is not enough,” said Dr. Donna Ryan, co-chair of the guidelines committee.

The good news? By next year, most insurance companies are expected to cover counseling and other obesity treatments, following in the steps of the Medicare program, which began paying for one-on-one help last year.

More than a third of U.S. adults are obese, and that’s been the case since the middle of the last decade. Officials define someone with a BMI of 30 or higher as obese. A 5-foot-9 person would be obese at 203 pounds.

Doctors are well aware that excess weight can trigger diabetes and lead to heart disease and other health problems. Yet surveys show that only about a third of obese patients recall their doctor talking to them about their BMI or counseling them about weight loss.

The guidelines were released this week by a group of medical organizations that include the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society.

Diane LeBlanc said the new guidelines are overdue.

More than year ago, the Baton Rouge, La., woman sat down with her longtime family doctor to talk about her weight and get a referral for some kind of help.

She had tried dieting without success for more than a decade, had high blood pressure and was about to hit a dress size of 20.

She said the doctor smiled and told her: “There’s a lot of programs out there. But really, you just have to eat less.”

“It just devastated me,” LeBlanc recalled. “He was saying, ‘It’s all in your mind.’ I was thinking, ‘If I could do that, don’t you think I would have done it by now?’”

She changed doctors and has lost 40 pounds from her 5-foot-4 frame since May after getting into an intensive Pennington weight-loss program that includes counseling sessions.

Doctors “need to get the message,” LeBlanc said. “Just telling someone you need to push the plate away is not going to work for everyone.”

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.