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Weight Control

Partner With Physicians To Succeed at Controlling Your Weight

Getting your physicians or healthcare practitioners involved in your weight management process may be just the step you need to succeed.

Although the majority of Americans believe they need to reach a healthier weight, they aren't consulting healthcare professionals for assistance, nor do they recognize that the health implications of excess weight and obesity rival or exceed the risks posed by other serious, chronic diseases, a new study has found.

Moreover, while most Americans wouldn't consider treating their high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer on their own, the opposite is true when it comes to weight management, according to Weight Expectations Report, a survey developed for Knoll Pharmaceutical Company by Leflein Associates Inc. Nearly two-thirds of people who said they need to lose weight to improve their health (64 percent) did not consult a physician in the past year, the survey indicated.

New guidelines developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) emphasize the need for physicians to play an active role in helping patients manage weight. However, overweight people currently appear to be trying to "go it alone" to reduce their weight to a healthier level, without working with a medical professional, study authors noted.

In addition to the two-thirds of individuals who did not consult physicians concerning their weight, only 21 percent of respondents who need to maintain or lose weight rated "physician care" as a very effective tool in that process, the study found.

Additionally, more than half of those who recognize that they need to lose weight say they determined what their healthy weight level was on their own; only 17 percent said a doctor or nurse provided this information, the report indicated.

"Consumers have an important tool, the Body Mass Index (BMI) to help recognize if their weight may increase health risks," said Dr. Louis J. Aronne, clinical associate professor of medicine, New York Hospital — Cornell Medical Center. "If their BMI is 25 or above, they should talk to their physician to assess their risks and to develop strategies to prevent further weight gain. If their BMI is 30 or greater, their physician may recommend a more aggressive plan for weight loss and maintenance.

"The bottom line is that they need to work with their physician — to assess weight and risks and to develop a plan to manage their weight," Aronne said.

In contrast to the prevalence of people who report self-treating their weight, an overwhelming majority of those who need to maintain or lose weight say that their primary physician should play a role in their weight management, the study found. These individuals expect their physicians to:

Evaluate their weight condition (80 percent);

Prescribe weight loss medication (89 percent);

Provide motivation to start a weight loss program (58 percent); and

Be involved in creating a complete weight loss program to suit their needs (43 percent), on par with what they expect from a nutritionist.

"The people who are self-treating, even if they believe they are using the right dietary and physical activity tools, need to work with their physician to create a comprehensive weight and health management plan that they can stick with for the long haul," Aronne stressed.

Get Real!

Unrealistic expectations in terms of rate and amount of weight loss are primary reasons that many people give up on weight management efforts. Approximately 58 percent of those surveyed said they believe they need to lose weight to achieve a healthy or ideal weight. These individuals indicated they would like to lose an average of 22 pounds.

If respondents were to lose weight, they indicated that doing so at an average rate of 2.6 pounds a week would make them feel their methods were successful. In comparison, federal guidelines recommend steady loss of 1 to 1.5 pounds per week.

In addition, Americans who need to maintain or lose weight mistakenly believe that an overweight person would have to lose an average of 17 percent of their weight to improve their health and sense of well-being. However, a modest loss of 5 percent to 10 percent, when maintained, has been shown to improve health and reduce risks of other diseases associated with excess weight and obesity, report authors noted.

Address: Knoll Pharmaceutical Company, 8800 Lion Avenue, Shreveport, LA 71106; (318) 861-8200

Barriers to Weight Loss

American adults are reporting a variety of reasons for their inability to maintain a healthy weight. They include:

Unhealthy eating habits — 63 percent

Lack of motivation — 53 percent

Lack of time to exercise — 48 percent

Food cravings — 46 percent

Eating out too much — 41 percent

Job stress — 23 percent

Source: Weight Expectations Report, Knoll Pharmaceutical Company, 1998.

© 2001 Health Resources Publishing