Front-line Professionals for Healthy Weight

About 5,000 Registered Dietitians have made a commitment to work as front-line professionals for healthy weight through their membership in the Weight Management Dietary Practice group of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics. At an annual meeting of this group in Indianapolis yesterday, a detailed explanation of how Medicare will now pay for their services to care for people with obesity drew a packed and highly engaged audience. Mary Ann Hodorowicz led the session.

With all the rhetoric about how obesity is the greatest threat to health for this generation, it might be surprising to learn that coverage from a health plans for treatment is nearly impossible. But that has been the sad truth of the situation for some time, whether you are a doctor, a dietitian, a psychologist, or any other health professional skilled in treating this condition.

Much of our effort to address obesity goes into blaming the people affected, rather than providing needed care to help them achieve better health. Perhaps that’s why progress is so slow.

But that’s also why it’s such good news that these skilled nutrition professionals are finding ways to provide care to Medicare patients under new guidelines issued last year by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The guidelines are far from perfect and the process is still cumbersome, but it’s a start. Signs are emerging that other health plans may follow Medicare’s example.

Who knows where this might lead us? Our healthcare system might actually get serious about treating obesity. And we have at least 5,000 Registered Dietitians with needed expertise to help.

Click here to read more about the about the CMS coverage decision for intensive behavioral treatment, click here to read an outline of yesterdays presentation on the subject, and click here to read more about the Weight Management Dietary Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Beets and Brussels Sprouts, image © Jasmine Pahl –

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