Just Say No to Obesity

A year has passed and Medscape has taken a second look at the beliefs and behaviors of healthcare providers about obesity care. In many ways, little has changed. Most providers still seem to view obesity as nothing more than a behavioral problem. Just say no to a bad diet and inactivity.

Many providers are reluctant to do much more than urge patients to behave differently. Whatever they’re doing, it must be wrong.

Little Prescribing or Referrals

Last year, 35% of primary care physicians said they never prescribe anti-obesity medications. This year, the number was 38% – no significant change. Likewise, they still refer very few patients – only 13% of those with obesity – for bariatric surgery. And yet half of their patients with obesity have serious complications that result from it. Both obesity meds and bariatric surgery can help prevent those complications.

But many providers – 67% of those who don’t prescribe – say they’d prefer patients focus on diet, exercise, and behavioral strategies. Unfortunately, that one-legged stool is a bit wobbly. Diet and exercise strategies, by themselves, are not enough to change the course of obesity for most patients.

Less Blame?

If we want to find encouragement in these numbers, we can. For that, we look at what providers say are the most important unmet needs in treating obesity. A year ago, 61% of providers said they needed more patients to follow their instructions. It was their number one choice.

This year, that unfortunate response was not so common. Only 49% named uncooperative patients as a big problem. It’s still not great. Too many healthcare providers still think patients are the problem. But we’re happy to see this attitude fade a bit.

Click here and here for information on this year’s survey. For last year’s survey, click here and here.

Stop! Photograph © Julie Falk / flickr

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March 22, 2018

4 Responses to “Just Say No to Obesity”

  1. March 22, 2018 at 3:40 pm, Lesley Gray said:

    Thank you for your post. I thoroughly appreciate all the posts provided here. In many countries this would be the response because this is what many Government Health Ministries set out as their strategies (often after acknowledging environmental aspects but with little in the strategies on how to contribute to changing those aspects). Health care providers are obliged to follow those strategies where they are contracted to the government. So it is a catch 22 for them all, even those who appreciate there is more to obesity reduction. Please do keep doing what you are doing with

    • March 23, 2018 at 4:05 am, Ted said:

      Thanks, Lesley!

  2. March 24, 2018 at 11:03 am, Karen McBride said:

    I live in Canada and have lived in Sweden. Both countries do bariatric procedures covered by government health insurance. I suspect it is similar at the NHS and the rest of Scandinavia. Comments like the previous are political, not factual.