Physician involvement in the management of obesity as a primary medical condition.

Research paper by J M JM Rippe, K J KJ McInnis, K J KJ Melanson

Indexed on: 15 Nov '01Published on: 15 Nov '01Published in: Obesity research


As the obesity epidemic escalates, increasing numbers of patients present with serious comorbidities related to excess body weight. Obesity should be recognized and treated as a primary medical condition that is progressive, chronic, and relapsing. Effective treatment of obesity has been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk factors and comorbid conditions. Physician involvement is necessary for medical assessment, management, counseling, and coordination of multidisciplinary obesity treatment. Obese patients who receive counseling and weight management from physicians are significantly more likely to undertake weight management programs than those who do not. Obesity treatment guidelines and materials are available from various health organizations. A comprehensive weight management program must include dietary adjustments, increased physical activity, and behavioral modification. Nutritional modifications should take into account the diet's energy content, composition, and suitability for the individual patient. The physical activity component should be safe and practical, including aerobic activity, strength training, and increased daily lifestyle activities. Various behavioral strategies enable the patient to make lifestyle changes that will promote weight loss and management. Adjunct therapies may serve to support lifestyle modifications in severe or resistant cases of obesity. Models for multidisciplinary care vary depending on whether they are designed for an individual medical practice or as part of the health care services of a larger facility. Lifestyle changes for healthy weight management must be permanently incorporated into a patient's daily lifestyle to reduce obesity and its associated health risks. Such intervention is necessary if the growing epidemic of obesity is to be slowed and reversed.