Rule of Thirds

New Guidance for Heart and Obesity Risk

New guidance for people with heart and obesity risk may provide another baby step forward in the access to care for evidence-based obesity treatment. This new guideline from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) expands upon a prior recommendation — still active — for screening and treatment of obesity.

Every patient with a BMI of 27 or higher and any risk factor for heart disease should be given access to intensive behavioral therapy for nutrition and exercise. The earlier recommendation for obesity covered everyone with a BMI over 30, regardless of heart risk. Like the obesity guideline, this new guideline carries an evidence rating of B.

The B rating means that all health plans must provide these services with no out-of-pocket expense for patients. Such universal access to care for basic behavioral services for obesity is slow to become a reality because old habits die hard.

Health plans are used to offering just token services — like advice to lose weight or pamphlets — that are known to have little benefit, and then blame patients when obesity persists or progresses.

What this guidance offers is one more reason that patients can start demanding access to the evidence-based care they need for obesity. It’s one more support for physicians, behavioral psychologists, dietitians, and fitness professionals who want to deliver these services and receive fair compensation.

In the past, only the most determined and affluent people could access such services. Health plans had a thousand excuses for not paying. Patients had to pay cash.

Change is coming.

“It is not enough to stare up the steps — we must step up the stairs.” — Vance Havner

Click here to read the guidance and here to read more about it from Reuters.

Rule of Thirds, photograph © John Watson / flickr

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2 Responses to “New Guidance for Heart and Obesity Risk”

  1. September 08, 2014 at 11:29 pm, susan dimick said:

    Health care providers should be actively engaged in helping their patients rather than simply instructing them to lose weight.

    • September 09, 2014 at 5:16 am, Ted said:

      You are absolutely right, Susan.