Resources available to help patients lose weight

The FDA also issues recommendations to increase the availability of lower-calorie restaurant food.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted June 26, 2006

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Within the past month, government agencies have taken steps to help both physicians and patients confront the obesity epidemic.

In recognition of the fact that patients who are counseled by their primary care physicians about weight are more likely to try to lose excess poundage, the Weight-control Information Network last month published a new guide, "Talking with Patients About Weight Loss: Tips for Primary Care Professionals." The Network is a project of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

This publication, available online at no cost, recommends that physicians avoid using terms that can be perceived as offensive, such as "obesity" or "excess fat." It also advises doctors to not blame every health problem on a patient's weight and to assist patients in setting realistic goals.

Meanwhile, organizations such as the American Medical Association have been working for some time to provide similar assistance. For example, the AMA made available the publication, "Assessment and Management of Adult Obesity," in December 2003 as part of its Roadmaps for Clinical Practice series.

On the patient front, the Food and Drug Administration issued the report, "Keystone Forum on Away-From-Home Foods: Opportunities for Preventing Weight Gain and Obesity." This paper calls on the restaurant industry to shift its marketing emphasis away from large portions of high- calorie food to smaller amounts of foods that are not quite so caloric. It also presses for higher standards for advertising campaigns directed toward children, and would like the government to have access to commercial data on consumer behavior.

Increased availability of lower- calorie food and beverages and easily accessible nutrition information are also urged.

"The recommendations may help industry members, educators, researchers, government and health care professionals take steps to reduce the obesity rate and the health and economic burdens that come with it," said Acting FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD.

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External links

Food and Drug Administration on the Keystone Forum's report on away-from-home food, June 2 (link)

"Talking with Patients about Weight Loss: Tips for Primary Care Professionals," Weight-control Information Network, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (link)

AMA Roadmaps for Clinical Practice: "Assessment and Management of Adult Obesity" (link)

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