Letters to the Editor

Treatment of Obese Patients Should Include Weight Loss


Am Fam Physician. 2002 Jul 1;66(1).

to the editor: I would like to commend the National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity for their article offering advice to family physicians who wish to help obese patients improve their health.1 The article illustrates many of the barriers to health care that are encountered by persons who are obese and offers a variety of excellent suggestions that physicians can use proactively to lessen these barriers.

While it is extremely important to address all the health issues confronted by patients who are obese, physicians should realize that these patients are also counting on their physicians to assist them in losing weight. In our practice, we surveyed 105 patients with a body mass index (BMI) greater than30.Of these patients, 95 percent thought weight loss was important, and 84 percent felt that their family physician could help them to lose weight.2 Unfortunately, both in our practice and nationwide, physicians have yet to even broach the issue of weight loss with most obese patients.3

I very much agree with the statement that, for patients who are obese, "physicians can encourage improvements in healthy behaviors, regardless of the patient’s desire for, or success with, weight loss treatment."1 Clearly, our patients who are obese are waiting and hoping for their physicians to do exactly that, and more.


1. Medical care for obese patients: advice for health care professionals. Am Fam Physician 2002;65:81-8.

2. Potter MB, Vu JD, Croughan-Minihane M. Weight management: what patients want from their primary care physicians. J Fam Pract 2001;50:513-8.

3. Mokdad AH, Serdula MK, Dietz WH, Bowman BA, Marks JS, Koplan JP. The spread of the obesity epidemic in the United States, 1991-1998. JAMA 1999;282:1519-22.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



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