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Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(1):online-only-

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.

Email letter submissions to afplet@aafp.org. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors. Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Letters may be edited to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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