In the US, there are trends for local governments to wage a war on obesity, for good reason. However, the returns on these efforts are mixed. But, these efforts have highlighted a few flaws in our system – 1) obesity has a health and financial cost to the patient and the healthcare system and 2) we always put the responsibility to manage obesity on the patient partnered with providers even as time with providers is ever-shrinking.

Here are two articles that look at two parts of the equation – the cost to the healthcare system and the responsibility of the provider.

In one Denmark had adopted very strict fat tax:

“The country’s fat tax added 16 kroner ($2.7) per kilogram of saturated fats in a product, and was levied on everything containing saturated fats, including raw ingredients like butter and milk to prepared foods like pizzas.”

Well, as of last weekend Denmark has scrapped the tax due to administrative costs and people simply cheating the system by crossing the border to buy junk food. Norway recognizes the value in reducing the rate of obesity but taxes turned out not to be the answer. See full article here.

 

On the other hand, how about docs taking hold of the problem? We place everything else on their shoulders, aren’t they prepared to handle obesity as well? Well, according to a new study medical students don’t even have the training to manage obesity.

According to a study published  in a recent issue of the journal Teaching and Learning in Medicine:

“Researchers analyzed more than 200 articles about obesity-related medical-school training that were published between 1966 and 2010. Only five of the articles dealt with ways to increase medical student’s knowledge, attitudes and skills regarding treatment of overweight and obese patients.

Only two of the five articles dealt with medical student bias toward obese patients, and just one addressed how to change this bias, according to the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers.

They said their findings are consistent with doctors’ reports of inadequate training in helping patients manage their weight.”

See a report on the full study here.

So who is the underlying beneficiary if obesity was managed well? The patient, of course. And who really has the most responsibility in managing  everyday weight management? Again, the patient. Perhaps helping the patient/ the consumer/ the end-user to understand the impact of their behavior would make the real difference. At the very least, when an individual choice is made the choice can be supported – or derided – by informed health-making decisions and understanding that it is really the individual behavior or behavior change can ultimately impact outcomes.

Again, just my opinion,

Dyan Bryson

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