Should Doctors Prescribe Weight Loss?

March 8, 2011

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prescriptionA recent study found that when people were told by their doctor that they needed to lose weight for their health, they took the advice seriously and were willing to take action. Unfortunately, the study also found a large number of doctors didn’t mention an overweight or obese patient’s weight at all, possibly leading their patient to believe it wasn’t a health issue.

The study, published in the Feb. 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, asked 7,790 adults between the ages of 20 and 64 who had their body mass index measured if their doctor had ever mentioned their weight. Shockingly, only 45 percent of overweight and 66 percent of obese participants reported that their doctors had ever brought up the subject.

The results of this study don’t surprise me. Most people trust their doctor and look to him or her for health advice. And yet, far too many doctors are not having this important conversation. Why would doctors be overlooking this so-called “pink elephant” in their office? I suspect it is because most physicians receive little to no training in how to help patients lose weight.

When I was in medical school, for example, we spent more time studying malaria than we did obesity or nutrition. But you know what? I have yet to see a case of malaria, but once I started practicing medicine I found myself seeing patients with serious medical problems due to obesity every single day!

That reality drove me to learn more about obesity. Time after time I saw people with serious medical issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, joint pain, and metabolic syndrome be able to reduce or discontinue their medications or have their health woes completely disappear within just a matter of weeks after starting a weight loss program.

Soon, my practice was thriving, and I wanted to share what I had found with other physicians, so they too could help people really get to the core of their health issues and assist them in living a longer, healthier life. The Center for Medical Weight Loss was born.

What we’ve found is that weight problems can stem from a multitude of sources – from genetics to food addiction – and because of this the approach to managing a weight issue must be tailored to each individual for the best success. The patient works with his or her doctor throughout the process. A complete medical history, detailed patient evaluation, nutrition plan, medication management, exercise recommendations, and ongoing support and counseling that helps our patients understand and learn how to conquer their weight loss challenges all add up to a program that works.

So if your doctor isn’t talking to you about your weight, bring it up at your next visit. And if he or she is at a loss of how to help, give The Center for Medical Weight Loss a call. We’d be happy to work with you and your doctor to overcome what may be the single largest threat to your health.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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