New recommendations to help fight obesity in adults

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The US Preventive Services Task Force just released recommendations that say doctors should not only screen adults for obesity, but also refer obese patients for intensive treatment and counseling.

Dr. Patrick O'Neil heads up the National Obesity Society and works at the Medical University of South Carolina. He says these recommendations could lead to better outcomes for weight loss patients.

"Losing a moderate amount of weight, even just 5-10% of your initial weight, can bring about improvement to a number of the problems that are associated with obesity, such as high blood pressure and obesity. We also see changes in how people feel about themselves," Dr. O'Neil said.

Obesity screenings could include determining a patient's body mass index, health status, and blood sugar and weight patterns. Treatment plans for obese patients could take weeks, and include a nutrition plan, behavior modification, and exercise routines.

Weight loss experts say it's just like a prescription.

"With the culmination of diet, aerobic work, and we also do resistance training, we see a big change in body composition, lower body fat percentage and hopefully a higher gain in muscle," exercise physiologist Alicia O'Connor said.

Dr. O'Neil is concerned that even though the recommendations are out, people may not get the treatment because they can't afford it.

"The kinds of programs that are recommended obviously involve fees. Unfortunately the vast majority of health insurance plans these days do not cover this type of treatment for obesity, if they cover any treatment for obesity," Dr. O'Neil said.

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