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Study: Neither Docs nor patients talking enough about obesity

Primary care physicians agree they have a role in addressing obesity, but say they do not have the right weight management resources.  Obese or heavier adults take responsibility for weight loss, but adults who need to lose weight may lack information about effective weight loss methods and strategies.  These findings and others come from new research commissioned and released today by the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance.
In a national survey of 290 primary care physicians conducted by Harris Interactive by mail between September 1 and December 21, 2009, 89 percent of primary care physicians believe it is their responsibility to help overweight or obese patients lose weight, but 72 percent of those surveyed also said that no one in their practice has been trained to deal with weight-related issues.
“We’re not surprised most primary care providers say more time would help them discuss weight with patients.  Yet, even if they had those precious extra minutes, many would still be missing needed information about weight-loss tools and existing programs,” explained Dr. Richard H. Carmona, 17th U.S. Surgeon General, Health and Wellness Chairperson of the STOP Obesity Alliance and President of Canyon Ranch Institute.  “It’s time to fill that information gap.”
A separate companion national telephone survey conducted by Harris Interactive of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted between September 1 and November 23, 2009, indicates that most recognize the impact of excess weight on health and that most obese or heavier adults, according to body mass index (BMI) calculations, take personal responsibility for losing weight.  At the same time, only 39 percent of those with a BMI of 30 or above – the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s measure of obesity for both adult men and women – said they had ever been told by a health care professional that they were obese.  Among U.S. adults informed of their obesity, close to 9 out of 10 said their health care professional recommended that they lose weight.  However, of the U.S. adults who were told by a health care professional to lose weight, about one in three said their physicians never discussed how.

Primary care physicians agree they have a role in addressing obesity, but say they do not have the right weight management resources.  Obese or heavier adults take responsibility for weight loss, but adults who need to lose weight may lack information about effective weight loss methods and strategies.  These findings and others come from new research commissioned and released today by the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance.

In a national survey of 290 primary care physicians conducted by Harris Interactive by mail between September 1 and December 21, 2009, 89 percent of primary care physicians believe it is their responsibility to help overweight or obese patients lose weight, but 72 percent of those surveyed also said that no one in their practice has been trained to deal with weight-related issues.

“We’re not surprised most primary care providers say more time would help them discuss weight with patients.  Yet, even if they had those precious extra minutes, many would still be missing needed information about weight-loss tools and existing programs,” explained Dr. Richard H. Carmona, 17th U.S. Surgeon General, Health and Wellness Chairperson of the STOP Obesity Alliance and President of Canyon Ranch Institute.  “It’s time to fill that information gap.”

A separate companion national telephone survey conducted by Harris Interactive of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted between September 1 and November 23, 2009, indicates that most recognize the impact of excess weight on health and that most obese or heavier adults, according to body mass index (BMI) calculations, take personal responsibility for losing weight.  At the same time, only 39 percent of those with a BMI of 30 or above – the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s measure of obesity for both adult men and women – said they had ever been told by a health care professional that they were obese.  Among U.S. adults informed of their obesity, close to 9 out of 10 said their health care professional recommended that they lose weight.  However, of the U.S. adults who were told by a health care professional to lose weight, about one in three said their physicians never discussed how.

The Alliance released a new white paper highlighting innovative approaches to help address obesity within primary care.  The paper stemmed from an expert roundtable organized by the Alliance that focused on adult primary care treatment and management of obesity.  The paper outlines five areas to explore to improve the treatment of obesity in primary care that could lead to significant advancements in patient outcomes: 1) monitoring weight, health indicators and risk; 2) assessing patient motivation; 3) defining success; 4) increasing integration and care coordination; and 5) implementing electronic medical records.  Click here to read the full report, or here for a summary of the report.

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