HERSHEY, Pa. -- While the number of overweight and obese Americans has increased, the amount of weight counseling offered by primary care physicians has decreased -- especially for patients with high blood pressure and diabetes -- according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.
More than 145 million adult Americans are overweight or obese.
Researchers analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for the years 1995-1996 and 2007-2008. This national survey collects information about the provision and use of outpatient medical care services in the United States. The 2007-08 data was the most recent available at the time of the study, and the two time periods were chosen because the survey structure was similar for better comparisons.
Despite the current obesity epidemic, patients seen in 2007-2008 had 46 percent lower odds of receiving weight counseling, with counseling occurring in only 6.2 percent of visits in that year. At the same time, the percentage of adults who were overweight or obese increased from 52.1 percent in 1995 to 63.3 percent in 2008.
Researchers report their findings in a recent edition of the journal Medical Care.
"It is striking that the odds of weight loss counseling declined by 41 percent, with only 29.9 percent of obese patients receiving counseling in 2007-2008, given the substantial increases in the rates of overweight and obesity during that time," said Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski, assistant professor of medicine. In addition, patients with high blood pressure were 46 percent less likely to receive counseling, and diabetes patients were 59 percent less likely. "People with these conditions stand the most to gain from the weight counseling," Kraschnewski said.
In 2003, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that physicians screen all patients for obesity and offer counseling and interventions to promote sustained weight loss. Created in 198
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