Obesity: Docs find effective weight-loss programs are elusive

By Matt Kuhrt

Although the healthcare industry recognizes obesity as an epidemic, so far it is unable to slow its rate of advance. Now, despite the development of guidelines for weight management, a study in Obesity suggests physicians may have a problem finding programs that use them.

In a survey of 191 weight-loss programs throughout the mid-Atlantic, the study found 1 percent with a "high" rating when it came to following weight-management guidelines laid out by The Obesity Society, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. This creates an issue for clinicians looking to refer obese patients to an effective weight-loss program, per a related story in MedPage Today.

Obesity represents a complex problem for physicians, and one that requires careful communication and coordination between doctors and patients, as FiercePracticeManagement has previously reported. Successful treatment requires patient education and, more importantly, a plan to follow up and ensure patients actually act on recommended changes.

The study looked at the ways in which programs dealt with intensity, dietary change, physical activity, behavior modification and the use of safe, effective supplements. Low-rated programs, which either used unsafe or inefficacious supplements or met fewer than two of the other five criteria, accounted for 91 percent of those surveyed.

The study underscores the importance of clinicians doing some additional legwork to locate weight-loss programs to which they can confidently refer their patients, MedPage Today noted. While website data was generally reliable in terms of programs' use of FDA-approved weight-loss medications, the authors of the study recommend physicians call a program directly in order to verify additional details. While the study did not account for the cost of programs or whether insurance plans were likely to cover them, MedPage Today noted that clinicians should gather that information as well, since it can be an important factor for patients.

To learn more:
- read the report
- check out the MedPage Today story