Obesity is at epidemic levels in the United States, and family physicians are in a unique position to put a dent in the disease.
To bolster the battle against obesity, the partners behind National Obesity Care Week (NOCW) created the Take 5 Challenge,(www.obesitycareweek.org) which encourages health care professionals to take five minutes to learn more about obesity and how to best engage with patients to discuss their weight.
Developed by founding partners The Obesity Society, the Obesity Action Coalition, the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and supported by 30 other groups, the Take 5 Challenge provides resources to address obesity,(www.obesitycareweek.org) including key reasons to discuss weight, starter questions to help physicians and other health care professionals engage in productive patient conversations, and ICD-10 codes and referral options for obesity specialists.
The Take 5 Challenge also encourages health care professionals to share the campaign with their colleagues to expand the conversation throughout the U.S. health care industry.
"For too long, excess weight has been the source of stigma and bias, which has, at times, prevented patients from receiving the care that the disease of obesity often requires," said Francesca Dea, executive director of The Obesity Society and executive chair of NOCW, in a news release.(www.prnewswire.com) "National Obesity Care Week shines a spotlight on the opportunities that health care professionals have to help patients achieve their overall weight management goals.
"The Take 5 Challenge can help health care professionals better understand how to address obesity and work toward more comprehensive treatment."
Now in its second year, NOCW was established to ensure patients affected by the disease of obesity receive compassionate, patient-centric and comprehensive care.
Jennifer Frost, M.D., medical director for the AAFP Health of the Public and Science Division, acknowledged that obesity is a challenge for both physicians and patients.
"There is a stigma attached to being obese, which makes it challenging for some to talk about," Frost told AAFP News. "It also isn't an easy or quick fix. But it's important that we address this issue with our patients in a supportive, nonjudgmental way."
According to Frost, family physicians need to focus conversations on healthy changes rather than amount of weight loss. "Increasing physical activity and making improvements in diet, even if accompanied by only a small amount of weight loss, can improve health outcomes," she said.
Frost said the Take 5 Challenge and its resources give family physicians useful tips on how to initiate this important conversation in a way that incorporates patients' values and their willingness and ability to make change.
"Telling a patient what they 'should' do does not help patients," Frost said. "We need to understand what is most important to them, what resources they have and what obstacles they face in order to assist them in making a plan that works for them.
"It doesn't need to be perfect. Even small change matters and may result in larger changes down the road."
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