Unclaimed Steps and Thin Shadows

A Thin Line Between Frustration and Progress in Obesity Care

Medscape Obesity Prescribing SurveyA thin line between frustration and progress in obesity care is apparent in the reaction to a new analysis of obesity care patterns published this week by MedScape. On one hand, you can see that even in patients with clear medical needs, 35% of primary care physicians say that they never prescribe obesity medications. Sam Klein, a former president of the Obesity Society reacted to these finding by saying:

To me, the most striking observation from the survey is that it demonstrates a considerable knowledge gap in the indications, efficacy, and safety of currently FDA-approved drugs for obesity that affect prescribing these medications.

On the other hand, numerous top experts saw progress in these observations. Said Ken Fujioka:

Believe it or not this is improvement and appears to indicate more healthcare providers are treating obesity. I know it looks dismal, but things are moving in the right direction.

Donna Ryan echoed Fujioka, saying, “The good news is that there seems to be some movement in physicians’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around obesity.”

So maybe these observations are encouraging and maybe they’re frustrating. In truth, they offer plenty of reasons for both reactions. When MedScape asked healthcare professionals about the biggest unmet need in obesity, they said they need “patients willing to follow my plan for them.” The need for more effective treatment options was a distant second.

It says a lot when professionals have convinced themselves that the patient, not the disease, represents the biggest problem.

Click here for the survey results, here for more perspective from MedScape, and here for perspective from an endocrinologist engaged in delivering medical care for obesity.

Unclaimed Steps and Thin Shadows, photograph © Derek Σωκράτης Finch / flickr

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March 31, 2016

8 Responses to “A Thin Line Between Frustration and Progress in Obesity Care”

  1. March 31, 2016 at 8:38 am, Joan Ifland said:

    Are they not prescribing because of the evidence showing that obesity medications don’t work and cause harm? To me, the most important finding is that doctors need training in implementation of food plans. And, insurance companies need to set up payment for these services.

    • March 31, 2016 at 10:16 am, Ted said:

      Thanks, Joan.

  2. March 31, 2016 at 9:14 am, Allen Browne said:

    Maybe the professionals are the biggest problem?

    • March 31, 2016 at 10:16 am, Ted said:

      It’s really a mixed bag out there, Allen, isn’t it?

  3. March 31, 2016 at 12:25 pm, Joan Ifland said:

    Ted, do you have the citation for the study?

  4. April 01, 2016 at 10:26 am, Jonathan Dugas said:

    It’s still early days when it comes to attitudes on obesity. Nearly everyone reading these pages is likely on one side of the spectrum–where I was perhaps 5-10 years ago.

    In the absence of 1) new information in their lives and 2) a willingness to consume and internalize that new info, we can expect the wheels to continue to turn slowly on this one.

    We are the minority viewpoint at this stage in the game, sadly, but thanks to people like Ted and other advocates it’s a growing minority. 🙂

    • April 01, 2016 at 6:25 pm, Ted said: