Tackling Obesity Is a Combo Deal

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Combos are not just for super-sizing any longer. In fact, one tasty combination can have a big impact on the fight against obesity.
Over the last several decades, we have experienced a steadily worsening obesity epidemic. It’s not like there has been a shortage of solutions. From fad diets to self help books to health coaching services to surgical procedures, there are endless options for individuals who want to lose weight. Some of them have documented and validated success.  But yet the epidemic continues to gain momentum.
Recent studies have closely examined the outcomes of various weight loss solutions, trying to uncover the most effective way forward.  Some reports suggest that primary care-based programs are good models, while others contest that commercial programs offer the most potential. The truth lies somewhere between, with both approaches facing their own obstacles.
Most commercial programs are not integrated with an individual’s primary care physician. This lack of doctor engagement has hampered the success of many health and wellness initiatives, specifically weight loss programs. Additionally, the majority of these solutions also fail to address the interrelated factors of clinical medicine, emotional wellbeing, nutrition and fitness for a holistic approach.
Meanwhile, many physicians are severely limited in the support they can offer because of the realities of the healthcare system. Quoted in USA Today, American Heart Association spokeswoman Gina Lundberg said, “The more resources you have for patients, the more likely they will be successful. Right now, insurance companies and Medicare don’t reimburse for these extra services, and very few practices can afford these resources.”
With the proliferation of patient-centered medical home initiatives, the government is making a big bet that physician-driven wellness and prevention is the right path to long-term success. Meanwhile, payers are and patients are actively investing in commercial solutions that promise results.
The literature suggests that regardless of delivery method, well-designed programs can have a positive impact by lowering costs while improving health. But as we’ve seen with obesity, sometimes good isn’t good enough. Bending the current trends in healthcare and creating systemic impact will require commercial solutions that effectively equip physicians to be quarterbacks of care. Smart approaches to wellness must squarely focus on the patient-physician relationship and give both physicians and patients tools to extend that relationship beyond the walls of the doctor’s office. This holds true whether the goal is weight loss, smoking cessation or better management of diabetes and hypertension.
It’s just not an either/or decision. The most effective way forward for health risks such as obesity isn’t through existing models from the medical or commercial world. The most effective way forward is through a physician-led, holistic approach that fully equips patients with proven resources and tools designed and refined over time by commercial interests.
Without this combined response to issues like obesity, our big problems in healthcare will only get bigger.



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