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Doctors Are Not Warning Obese Patients of Disability Risk

Posted on Jun 22, 2013

As of 2010, 69.2 percent of Americans were overweight; 35.9 percent of overweight Americans were obese, and 3.6 percent were morbidly obese. While Facebook posts may have you believing that beauty comes in all sizes, health may not. Health risks that are directly related to obesity include Type-two diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, kidney disease, arthritis, and certain cancers. An obese person is twice as likely to die early as a person of normal weight. Annual health care costs associated with obesity exceed $150 billion. Yet many doctors are not warning patients that their weight could put them at risk of serious illness and disability.

Researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine analyzed data collected by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for the years 2007 and 2008 (the most recent available). They compared these records to data from 1995 and 1996. During this period, the percentage of overweight and obese Americans increased from 52.1 percent in 1995 to 63.3 percent in 2008. While the number of overweight grew, the amount of time dedicated to discussing the risks of obesity declined.

According to the study, primary care physicians were 41 percent less likely to tell patients about the health risk of obesity in 2008 than in 1995. The doctors performing the study believe the lack of information about weight-related health risks may be due to the many demands on a doctor’s time. It may also be because obesity counseling is not covered by insurance or because doctors are not trained to give lifestyle counseling. The study did not find a relationship between lack of counseling and obesity, and it is not known if patients will heed a doctor’s advice to lose weight in order to prevent permanent disability.

For more information on this, or for help with your own disability claim, contact us today.

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John L. Keefe
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