Obesity is a difficult thing to conquer, even with the best of intentions. For some, the combination of watching what they eat and daily exercise is a difficult task to keep up with. It is for that very reason that a study on obesity published in the journal, Patient Education and Counseling, says that patients suffering with obesity that utilize a physician’s help to lose weight are successful more often.
During the two-year study, 347 individuals struggling with obesity took part in something called Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction, or POWER. The purpose of POWER was to examine just how important the benefits of a healthcare worker assisting someone who is trying to conquer obesity are. Of the 347 participants, 63 percent were female, and 40 percent were African-American. The mean age of all the participants in the POWER study was 54.8-years-old.
Dr. Wendy Bennett, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine spoke about the POWER program.
“This trial supports other evidence that providers are very important in their patients’ weight loss efforts. Incorporating physicians into future programs might lead patients to more successful weight loss.”
Participants in the POWER study were asked how they felt about their physician-assisted weight loss attempts after two years in the program.
When a physician or other healthcare assists in the battle against obesity, they may encourage or prescribe behavior modification — encompassing diet and exercise, pre-packaged meal replacement plans, and pharmacotherapy, or weight-loss medication. After a healthcare official and a patient agree on a plan, the individual is scheduled for follow-up visits to their healthcare partner to see how things are going. The time between visits will vary from patient to patient, but they are usually scheduled every three-to-four weeks.
Unsurprisingly, the participants that gave an exceptionally high rating to their healthcare partners were the obese participants that lost the most weight, that being an average of about 111 pounds. Those participants that lost an average of five pounds gave their healthcare partners the lowest rankings.
Currently, healthcare workers are not usually repaid by private insurance companies or Medicare for assisting obese patients with weight loss programs, even though successful weight loss programs greatly increase the health of those struggling with obesity, and save money on healthcare in the long run.
The researchers that built and conducted the POWER study intend to use their findings to attempt to lobby insurance companies to pay for healthcare assisted weight loss programs in the future.
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