“Just Keep Doing What You’re Doing”
We hear much and write much about some of the appalling experiences of people with obesity when they interact with healthcare professionals. And most of the time, primary care providers just avoid the subject. But perhaps the most frustrating experience comes when a professional dismisses a patient who is seeking advice. “Just keep doing what you’re doing” is advice that we hear dispensed with surprising frequency.
It’s a perfect way to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. And as we hear from more people than we can count, it’s often the only advice they can get out of their primary care provider.
Mind you, these are not people who are afraid of the subject. They are not people who have trivial concerns about losing a few pounds to get ready for the beach or an important event. It’s people who have a long history of obesity and genuine health concerns. They’re not afraid of the O-word. And they’re looking for good strategies that will actually help them improve their health and their body weight.
Unfortunately, training has not prepared most primary care providers for delivering this care that people need. In a new systematic review on the subject, Calum McHale and colleagues note that:
Primary care is ideally placed to play an effective role in patient weight management; however, patient weight is seldom discussed in this context.
Good news lies in the midst of all this frustration. Leaders in primary care are working on ways to equip providers to engage with patients who want help to overcome obesity. Members of the Obesity Society are working with diverse stakeholders through the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Growing numbers of physicians, mainly in primary care, are equipping themselves to deliver obesity care and earning a board certification in obesity medicine. And most important, growing numbers of patients are taking the lead to address the issue with their primary care providers, encouraged by campaigns like Your Weight Matters.
“Keep doing what you’re doing” is not a good strategy.
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July 29, 2016