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annual physical

Hot Topic Tuesday: How Far Should Doctors Go To Help Patients Lose Weight?

Written on August 7, 2012 at 11:26 am , by

Do you think doctors should start discussing BMI measurements? (Photo courtesy of IStock)

Written by Laura Cofsky, editorial intern

With so many studies on the consequences of excess fat making the news, it’s no wonder obesity has become a hot button issue. After all, no one wants an increased risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. And to make matters worse, experts predict 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030!

To combat what looks like a very gloomy forecast, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has proposed that all adults be examined for obesity during routine checkups. Our height and weight are already taken, but the USPSTF recommends doctors also calculate BMI; then discuss weight loss plans with patients who have a BMI over 30.

The upside? It may help patients realize potential lifestyle changes are needed, and help is available. In fact, the new proposal could lead to reimbursement for weight loss treatments, such as counseling.

However, it seems a bit shortsighted to make the conversation just about weight loss. There are some health problems that contribute to excess weight, and taking such a quick-fix approach may do more harm then good. After all, many of us know people who “look” healthy, but still engage in very unhealthy activities.

Now you tell us: How would you feel if your doctor started taking BMI measurements?