Doctors Leading the Fight against Obesity

As a nation, we have challenges when it comes to our waistline. We enjoy food, and we are busy; often times too busy for maintaining healthy lifestyles. When it comes time for a visit to the doctor, more often than not, overweight or obese patients are not receiving weight loss counseling.

This is startling, and according to a Nielsen Strategic Health Perspectives study while 89 percent of physicians say they counsel patients on preventive screening and weight maintenance, only 14 percent of patients report that they received this advice from their doctor. Additionally the survey revealed that while 52 percent of physicians report they recommend weight loss programs, only 5 percent of patients report receiving this advice.

On average, physicians provide comprehensive care and assessment for their patients in approximately fifteen to twenty minutes per in-person visit, on average. With telemedicine not yet mainstream, despite the availability of technology, face-time with a physician is increasingly narrowing to the point of providing check-ins for diseases or injuries, rather than preventive care. System-level improvement is needed to ensure patients have the opportunity to receive the care they need to be healthier.

As part of this approach, practices throughout the nation are dedicated to tackling the “obesity epidemic” so noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ideal Protein is providing its contribution as well.

Over 3,000 practices utilizing the Ideal Protein Protocol are changing the way physicians counsel their patients on weight loss, and are providing a structured maintenance program to sustain weight loss success. Ultimately, those practices empower physicians to help patients combat secondary conditions associated with being overweight or obese, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, many cancers, degenerative joint disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

This is a win-win for both physician and patient, alike, as patients lose weight and get healthier while physicians adhere to Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) guidelines that will soon require a new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).  Under the new system, physicians could face reductions in pay on a per patient basis if they do not follow certain guidelines for documenting obesity in patients; pay-for-value incentives have made screening for body mass index (BMI) and counseling for weight management a standard for reimbursement.

We physicians might shy away from discussing weight loss with patients as it can be a sensitive topic, but the very real dangers of obesity and the secondary chronic disease consequences that can arise are too important to ignore.

To join the ranks of healthcare providers fighting obesity, send us a tweet at @DrsFightObesity using #doctorsfightingobesity.

 

Linda Anegawa, M.D., F.A.C.P. is the founder of OSR Weight Management-Hawaii Metabolic Medicine. She serves on the University of Hawaii’s medical school faculty and developed the school’s first Obesity Medicine interdisciplinary clerkship experience. Dr. Anegawa also sits on the Ideal Protein Medical Advisory Board.