Timely tool for providers: Guideline on adult obesity

by Lisa S. on 12/5/2011 1:53:27 AM

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., accessed Nov. 15, 2011.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nutrition and Weight Status., 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., accessed No. 22, 2011.