Posted by: Chris Maloney | June 27, 2014

Does Your Doctor Get The Training To Treat Obesity?

The trend toward obesity is increasing. Family doctors are expected to be on the front lines, counseling patients on how to live healthier lives. But many of those doctors are not taking up the challenge. A recent Washington Post article states that only one in eight office visits have any discussion of diet or nutrition.

Why? Many doctors are themselves overweight or obese. They aren’t able to control their own weights, so it is difficult to counsel others to do better than they do themselves.

Were doctors trained in obesity? Only 25% believe that they have sufficient training to talk to patients about exercise or diet. In response, the number of hours devoted to teaching doctors about nutrition has declined in the last ten years.

So let’s recap. We have an epidemic and we have doctors. The doctors are under trained, don’t feel ready, and mostly avoid talking about the epidemic. The training they receive has declined rather than increasing.

Does anyone feel positive about this situation? What if we added to the mix that at this rate one in four Americans will be diabetic, and that a single diabetic costs the healthcare system on average more than a million dollars in his or her lifetime.

It isn’t that we spend so much on healthcare that is the most frustrating. It’s that no one seems to be able to do the math on where our healthcare billions would be best spent.

Some are bucking the trend. Tom Bartol here in Maine instituted a positive reinforcement system (office wide applause) for weight loss. He has been amazingly effective using a little ingenuity at no increased cost. Is it time to have professional nutrition inspectors the same way we have hand washing inspectors in the major hospitals? What you measure gets managed, and we aren’t currently managing our national weight.

If you want to start comparing how we’re doing compared to the rest of the world, have a look at the body weight scales at Wikipedia. Hint: we’re not competitive.

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