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!
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are currently obese, and no state has an obesity rate that is less than 20 percent. These numbers have continued to rise in recent decades. In 1990, no state had an obesity rate higher than 15 percent, and 10 states had an obesity rate lower than 10 percent. With the increase of these numbers, it is no surprise that the majority of the nation feels they could lose weight. According to The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans, 78 percent of Americans said they could benefit from losing weight right now, and more than half of all Americans (52 percent) currently describe their weight as overweight or obese. The number grows when looking at obesity from the providers’ side, as 97 percent of providers reported that many of their patients could do a better job of managing their weight.
In addition, among those Americans struggling with weight management, the vast majority (70 percent) said that obesity in the United States is a significant problem. And providers agree: 86 percent of providers said that obesity in adults is a significant problem in the United States. From both the provider and patient standpoints, if this disease continues to expand, more of our family members and friends are likely to struggle with the adverse effects.
Understanding the Cause
The good news is that the majority of Americans know the cause of obesity doesn’t lie within our ethnicity, gender or who our parents are. In fact, according to The Obesity Epidemic, 90 percent of Americans—and 97 percent of providers—believe that diet and exercise, and not genetics, are the biggest causes of obesity. And while the majority of Americans believe that a poor diet and lack of exercise leads to obesity, 50 percent of the nation said that not getting enough physical activity has negatively impacted their life. Patients understand the direct correlation between diet and exercise and obesity. However, it is time for patients to find time and motivation to get to the gym and the discipline to choose fresh and healthy foods. It will make a difference.
The Need for Connection with Providers
Getting better connected with doctors and healthcare providers is a crucial part of a patient’s ability to overcome obesity. According to The Obesity Epidemic, the average American has attempted to diet or lose weight nine times in their life, and just 37 percent reported being completely successful with these plans. Part of the reason behind this is a lack of provider-patient communication, as The Obesity Epidemic found that just 40 percent of Americans have taken the step of discussing weight management with their doctors. Even fewer providers, just 27 percent, said that the majority of their patients have discussed this issue with them. However, 61 percent of Americans said they would be interested in and/or happy to receive communications from their doctor with tips on how to manage their weight, and nearly a fourth (24 percent) reported that communications from their doctor between office visits, such as emails, text messages, or phone calls, would help them better manage their overall health. Opening the door for better and more frequent communication with doctors is important, as information, education and support received between visits can help people make lifestyle changes to better manage their weight and overall health.
And while patients have their views on communication, healthcare providers report that they believe their patients would benefit from many types of between-visit communications. Thirty-five percent of providers said that communications between patients and doctors could help to better manage a patient’s weight. Providers also believe that the information that is relayed in this communication is key. Fifty-seven percent of providers said they would give patients advice to lose weight but not exact steps in the treatment of obesity. Additionally, just under half of providers (48 percent) said that this type of communication is vital in promoting weight management among patients. Providing guidelines while giving patients the freedom to create their own personalized plan allows patients to have a better chance of successfully managing their weight.
While Americans realize that weight management is a problem, attempts to prevent or treat obesity are currently not working for many patients. More effective engagement of patients by providers using high-tech, personalized messaging is a key tool that doctors can use to help their patients better manage their weight. As reported by The Obesity Epidemic, 61 percent of Americans think obesity in adults is a significant problem in the United States. In addition, 21 percent of Americans report that they have experienced obesity in their life, and 51 percent say they could do a better job of managing their weight. Talking to a doctor, sticking to a healthy diet and exercising regularly can all help in the struggle against obesity. Not only will this benefit adults looking to slim down their waist, but it will also aid in our country’s attempt to educate youth about obesity. If children see their parents eating better and making time to go to the gym, the next generation will be encouraged to develop healthy habits while they are young.