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    Archive for the ‘doctors’ Category

    In The News: Speak Up, Doc!

    Stethoscope_around_doctor_s_neck_uid(3)Earlier this week, The Los Angeles Times published a most interesting article by board-certified specialist in preventive medicine Valerie Ulene, who offered a unique perspective on the overweight and obesity problem in the United States — specifically the lack of awareness on behalf of overweight and obese individuals coupled with the minimal help offered by some general practitioners.

    “A National Consumers League survey conducted by Harris Interactive in 2007 found that… eighty-two percent of obese people surveyed considered themselves to be simply overweight; among those who were in fact only overweight, close to 1 in 3 believed that they were normal weight,” the article reports.

    Even worse, “a 2005 study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only about 40% of obese people are actually advised by their healthcare professional to lose weight.”  Yikes!

    I was particularly enraged — and rather disgusted — by this tidbit:

    “Physicians are reluctant to bring up weight because it’s such a loaded issue,” says Dr. William Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC. It’s a difficult and often emotional conversation to have with patients, so some doctors just avoid it.”

    Absolutely ridiculous!  How much longer are these physicians planning on hiding their heads in the sand like ostriches?

    I am flabbergasted that a medical professional would be so fearful of a “loaded” and possibly emotional conversation as to ignore a blatant health problem in a patient.  With that logic, then patients would also not be told of cancer or HIV diagnoses.

    If so many doctors are apparently so paralyzed by “difficult conversations” that they render themselves useless, maybe medical schools should seriously consider adding a few courses on counseling skills to the curriculum.

    Besides, I am not sure why general practitions are so weary of expressing concern for an overweight or obese patient’s health.  All they really should be doing is voicing their concern and then referring them to a professional (such as a Registered Dietitian) who can take it from there.  I know many doctors have deity complexes, but no one — including myself — is expecting them to tackle nutrition in their practice.

    My blood pressure rose a little more upon reading this:

    “Sometimes doctors feel they have little to offer in the way of a solution. Weight-loss counseling frequently proves ineffective, weight-loss medications produce only modest results and obesity surgery isn’t appropriate for most people.”

    Considering that the vast majority of doctors in this country are completely unfamiliar with nutrition concepts, it is no wonder they think weight-loss counseling proves ineffective.  Additionally, the mere fact that they push weight-loss medications shows a basic lack of understanding.  How can we expect the general population to stop seeking out a magic pill when many doctors apparently think one exists?

    Doctors: remember that Registered Dietitians are out there.  Refer to them!  And, if you don’t think you can handle telling a patient their health is at risk because of their weight, consider another profession.

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    The Missing Link

    The latest video uploaded to the Small Bites YouTube channel is a short and not-so-sweet one.

    In it, I briefly mention a concern of mine with many medical schools in the United States — their lack of nutrition education.

    Doctors who are knowledgeable about about nutrition had to seek out that information elsewhere, mainly by spending even more time in school and getting the appropriate degrees and accreditations.

    This explains why so many general practitioners prescribe fiber pills to constipated patients (rather than explain how this can be managed through food or at the very least rprovide a referral Registered Dietitian) or deal with high blood pressure by immediately recommending medication (instead of initially considerig appropriate appropriate dietary changes).

    Surveys of incoming medical students to various universities show that they are interested in learning about the topic, so why are so few institutions doing anything about it?

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