Don’t Ask, Don’t Care
So, with headlines blaring about increasing costs associated with obesity and the ever growing obesity rate, I often ask myself, “Are we finally reaching the point, as a nation, when we are going to take the obesity epidemic seriously?” I see encouraging signs that we are beginning to move in the right direction; but much work is still needed and one key part of that, in my opinion, is primary care physicians and how they talk and counsel folks who struggle with their weight.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that primary care physicians haven’t yet fully come to grip with what our nation (and many of us personally) are facing. In fact, I heard a great quote from an OAC Board Member who was with me attending the Weight of the Nation Meetings organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a few weeks ago. He talked of a physician who described the primary care approach to obesity perfectly. His description was “Don’t Ask, Don’t Care.”
Reality is the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Care” attitude is a major part of the problem. Two things we know are that if a primary care doc handles the conversation improperly, the patient is likely not to return (missing needed medical care) and second, we know if they do handle it properly and suggest an obesity treatment, patients are more likely to seek the help they need. Primary Care physicians have the power to help and to hurt, but first we need to convince them to “Ask and Care.” Reimbursing them for services around obesity may help but much, much more education on the evidence base is needed as well. Too many have no understanding of obesity and its complexity at all. Maybe when we finally pay them and educate them, they’ll “ask and care.”
As always I’d appreciate your thoughts as well.
Making a Difference Together,