American Academy of Family Physicians Publishes Physician Guide to Helping Overweight Patients
Two Key Obesity Measures Added to “Vital Signs”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5222
“Family physicians are on the front lines of medical care so we are uniquely positioned to help patients, families and communities combat obesity in this country,” said Michael Fleming, M.D., president-elect of the AAFP.
The statistics about overweight and obesity in the United States are sobering and reaching epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64 percent of adults were overweight or obese in 2000 and 15 percent of children and adolescents were overweight as well. In addition to the human toll of obesity, the disease is also a serious economic issue for the United States, accounting for an estimated $93 billion burden on the health-care system.
The educational guide will be used by family physicians nationwide as they work together with their patients to combat overweight and obesity. The guide, titled “Practical Advice for Family Physicians to Help Overweight Patients,” was developed by a group of experts in family practice, nutrition, behavioral science, epidemiology, and psychology and was published under the auspices of the Academy’s peer-reviewed scientific journal, American Family Physician. It is being distributed to physicians at the AAFP’s annual Scientific Assembly in New Orleans this week and will be mailed to all AAFP members.
In addition to carefully monitoring BMI and waist circumference throughout a patient’s lifetime, the educational guide also calls on family physicians to discuss eating and physical activity habits with patients as often as possible, even when overweight is not present.
“It is important to recognize that this advice does not focus on dieting. It points to the fact that in the long-term, prevention of additional weight gain may be as important to health as weight loss,” said Thomas McKnight, M.D., M.P.H., a member of the AAFP’s Panel on Obesity and medical editor of the guide. “Small lifestyle changes in eating and activity habits can have the most significant impact on people’s health because they are the kinds of changes that can be sustained throughout one’s lifetime.”
The guide also calls on family physicians to serve as role models for their patients and their communities by engaging in healthy eating habits and active lifestyles themselves. In conjunction with the publication of the physician guide, the AAFP also launched a 10-year fitness initiative called Americans in Motion at its Scientific Assembly. The first year of the AIM program will focus on encouraging family physicians themselves to become healthier.
“We’ve become an ‘oversized’ nation due to decades of overeating and under exercising,” Fleming said. “America’s family physicians are committed to doing whatever we can to help our patients avoid the unhealthy consequences of being overweight.”
Consumers can go to familydoctor.org for information on weight control and fitness.
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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents more than 94,300 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical specialty society devoted solely to primary care. Please visit www.aafp.org for more information about AAFP.
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 110,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is 240 million office visits each year — nearly 87 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.
To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org.