Private Conversation

Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Obesity Care

Stokes et al. Obesity Care Seeking BehaviorsUnfortunately, this is a conversation that doesn’t happen very often. By this, we mean talking to your healthcare provider about obesity care. In fact, Andrew Stokes and colleagues found that only about ten percent of people with obesity talk to any healthcare provider about it. Only four percent actually talk to a doctor. And talking about obesity meds is even more rare.

So at YWM2018, Scott Kahan and Ted Kyle presented on how to talk with your healthcare provider about obesity care. And even more specifically, how obesity meds fit into the picture.

Obesity Meds: The Options

First, Kahan reviewed the new reality of obesity meds. Although much has changed, perceptions are in some ways still stuck in the mid twentieth century. That was a time of short-term drug use and poor safety profiles. Understanding of obesity was just about nil.

Of course, much has changed. Obesity is understood as a chronic disease that requires chronic care. New medications have better safety profiles and data on outcomes for long-term use. We don’t have breakthroughs that work for everyone. But we have several new options. And for some people, the right one can be quite helpful.

Combined with other forms of therapy, even better results are possible.

Partnering with Your Provider

Kyle’s assignment was to address a practical question. How can someone best partner with their healthcare providers for obesity care? To answer that question, he offered six things to remember.

1. It takes a team. Overcoming obesity often requires a team effort. Tapping into the skills of different health professionals can get you farther than just one.

2. Connect to someone who knows obesity. Not everyone on your team has to be an expert, but you need an expert on your side.

3. Listening is the mark of a good provider. Of course, this is always true. But in obesity care, a provider who doesn’t listen is not very competent.

4. Drugs are an important, but not magic, tool. If you find one that works safely for you, it can help to maintain a healthier weight status. But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

5. Actual mileage may vary. You’ll find lots of talk about average results. But the truth is that finding what works for you is a process of trial and error. When it comes to obesity, everyone is different.

6. Don’t accept nonsense. All of us are used to being dismissed because of our weight. But that has to stop. Providers who make false assumptions or dispense false generalizations can do more harm than good. Learn to spot the nonsense and reject it. You deserve better.

The good news in all of this is simple. We have options. Arm yourself with good information and find the options that work best for you.

Click here for Kyle’s slides on talking with your provider about meds and obesity care.

Private Conversation, painting by Felix Vallotton / WikiArt

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July 23, 2018