The epidemic of obesity in the United States has claimed one-third of adults — 33.8 percent. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. (Those with a BMI of 25-29.9 are considered overweight.) As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, “During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent. Thirty-six states had a prevalence of 25 percent or more; 12 of these states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia) had a prevalence of 30 percent or more.”1
The CDC’s Healthy People 2020 program aims for a 10 percent reduction in adult obesity over the next nine years.2 The agency, along with the healthcare industry, wants to stem the surge of obesity-related conditions that include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Not only do these conditions cause premature death, they also generate enormous medical costs. In 2008, obesity-associated healthcare costs were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs paid by third-party payers for obese people were $1,429 higher than for those of normal weight.3
HealthTeamWorks has developed a clinical guideline on adult obesity to help providers address this often-difficult issue with patients. Easy to use and comprehensive, it covers clinical assessment, diet, physical activity, weight-loss medications, surgery, tips for families, goal-setting and approaches to counseling that engage the patient. An associated action plan for patients allows providers to work with them to set goals for reaching a healthy weight. Goals pertain to nutrition and physical activity; the provider can assist with the care-team support section, which has spaces for referrals, medications and community resources.
The guideline assists clinicians regardless of the cause of a patient’s obesity: genetics, inactivity, poor diet/eating habits, lifestyle, quitting smoking, pregnancy, lack of sleep, medication, age, socio-economic issues or medical problems.4
Because obesity represents such a major public health problem, and because losing even a modest amount of weight can prevent or improve morbidity, it’s imperative that clinicians address the issue with patients.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight Obesity — U.S. Obesity Trends. www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html, accessed Nov. 15, 2011.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HealthyPeople.gov. Nutrition and Weight Status. http://healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/objectiveslist.aspx?topicId=29#141, accessed Nov. 15, 2011.
3. Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: Payer- and service-specific estimates. Health Aff September/October 2009 vol. 28 no. 5 w822-w831.
4. Mayo Clinic. Obesity. www.mayoclinic.com/health/obesity/DS00314, accessed No. 22, 2011.