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Approximately 78 million American adults are obese.
Excess weight is a major risk factor for numerous diseases and conditions.
Obesity increases the risk of death from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and certain types of cancer, according to a report by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). Furthermore, contends the report, the psychological, social, and economic consequences of obesity are serious enough to significantly impact the overall health and well-being of the American population.
Facts and Statistics About Obesity
The term “overweight” is defined as someone who has a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9, and the term “obesity” refers to those with a BMI of greater than 30. An estimated 69% of American adults are overweight, and around 35% of American adults are obese. Rates of obesity are more prevalent in certain racial and ethnic groups, and are more prevalent in poorer socioeconomic groups and among those with less education. According to the ACC / AHA report, obese medical patients have 46% higher inpatient treatment costs, 27% more outpatient costs, and 80% higher prescription drug expenses. In 2008, the cost for caring for obese people in the US reached approximately $147 billion.
The American Medical Association’s Classification of Obesity as a Disease
Last summer, the American Medical Association (AMA) made the decision to label obesity as a disease, and their reasoning was straightforward: by classifying obesity as a disease, they hope to improve health insurance reimbursement for treatment of obesity. Timothy Church, director of preventive medicine research at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, applauded the decision, saying, “I’m okay with it if that’s what it’s going to take to get reimbursement for treatments.” Physicians who treat a lot of obese patients think the new AMA designation will improve insurance reimbursement for lifestyle counseling, bariatric surgery, and obesity drugs.
Screening Guidelines from the ACC / AHA Report
Insurance companies have also been under pressure from the results of a federal task force of preventive health experts, which included the recommendation that physicians screen for obesity and provide lifestyle counseling or referrals to weight loss programs. Said Church, “Until insurance companies move towards reimbursement, I don’t think we’ll make much headway” with management of obesity.
With the new AMA classification of obesity as a disease, patients could see better reimbursement for medical treatments for weight loss.
Guidelines for treatment of overweight or obese patients focus on two things: body weight, and whether excess body weight is associated with medical risk. Patients with sufficient health risk due to their weight should receive comprehensive lifestyle intervention, including input from medical, nutritional, and behavioral experts. Lifestyle intervention should be the foundation for treatment of obesity, but physicians may ultimately choose to prescribe prescription weight loss drugs like Xenical or to recommend bariatric surgery.
The General Process for Medical Weight Management
According to the ACC / AHA report, the process for treating obesity should be done in a step-by-step manner:
Under the ACC / AHA guidelines, doctors should only offer prescription weight loss drugs or a referral to a bariatric surgeon only if the patient is unable to lose and maintain the loss of 5 to 10% of his or her body weight using lifestyle intervention.
Weight Loss Drugs
Currently the only prescription weight loss drug approved for long term use is Xenical, which works by reducing the amount of fat that is absorbed from food. Newer weight loss drugs Qsymia and Belviq work on a different physiological principle that involves adjusting neurotransmitter levels in the brain for appetite control. These two drugs have not been in use long enough for researchers to be able to evaluate their usefulness and safety with long term use. One possible improvement that could come about because of the AMA classification of obesity as a disease is better insurance reimbursement for prescription weight loss drugs.
Millions of people around the world have successfully lost weight by modifying their diet and taking Xenical, and AccessRx.com sells Xenical at competitive prices with unparalleled convenience and customer service. AccessRx.com is compliant with HIPAA, and is committed to the best online security and customer privacy practices.
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