NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans”, which discusses both the patient and provider views on the fastest-growing health problem in America. Download it HERE!
The Gold Rush. Getting into Hollywood. The Rocky Mountains. Throughout the ages, there have been a whole host of reasons that people travel West with dreams of bettering their life and taking in the scenery. And while many people have successfully found money or a better career in the region, the struggle with obesity is just as prevalent in this area as it is in the rest of the nation.
According to The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans, 63 percent of the West thinks that obesity is a significant problem in the U.S., and 49 percent of the region currently describes their weight as overweight or obese. And while a fifth of the region (21 percent) reports that they have experienced obesity in their life, 92 percent feel that diet and exercise, and not genetics, are the biggest causes of obesity. This means that many in the region realize they are obese but need help in taking the steps necessary to better manage their weight.
The Need for Increased Provider-Patient Communication
Providers need to start the dialogue and communicate with patients more regularly, opening doors for greater interaction throughout the year, not just at an annual checkup. The Obesity Epidemic highlights the fact that people value this communication, as 57 percent of Westerners said they would be interested in and/or happy to receive communications from their doctor with tips to help manage their weight. And with recent technological advances and increased use of technology among people of all ages, the West is has a variety of options on how to get this communication. Twenty-two percent of Westerners said that communications from their doctor between office visits, such as emails, text messages, or voicemails, would help them better manage their overall health.
The Need for Balance
Westerners are known for their balanced lifestyle. They put in the hours necessary to get the job done but also are known for balancing work with play. Working full-time brings in income and provides numerous other perks that benefit our lives; however, it also takes time away from other activities. Add in responsibilities at home and making time for hobbies, and the amount of time available to devote to a healthy lifestyle runs dry. Seventy-six percent of the West reported that they could benefit from losing weight right now, but just 37 percent, the smallest of any region, have taken the crucial first step of discussing weight management with their doctor. Additionally, 52 percent agreed that not getting enough exercise or physical activity has negatively impacted their health. Talking with healthcare professionals about a healthy diet and effective exercise plan is a crucial first step toward making a commitment to make behavioral changes that lead to a healthier life.
But at the end of the day, Westerners must be open to making changes. Advertisements and advice on how to lose weight and what exercise programs are most effective are common, but, sadly, patients aren’t receiving the ongoing support they need in order to successfully make behavioral changes. Healthcare providers should take that as a challenge. Finding ways to better communicate with their patients can help fight the obesity epidemic. As reported in The Obesity Epidemic, the average American has attempted to diet or lose weight nine times, and just 38 percent of Westerners reported being completely successful with a diet or attempt to lose weight. Furthermore, 51 percent of the region said they could do a better job of managing their weight.
It may only require simple steps—getting to the gym on a regular basis and eating healthy foods rather than fast food meals from a bag—but actually finding time and taking the steps to get there needs to be a priority for the whole nation. It can help Americans tackle the disease of obesity one pound at a time.