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,


2 Comments for this Post
  • Lori Popp
    May 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    My first reaction is do the Dr’s not take an oath to provide good healthcare? This then should include the disease of obesity. After my surgery and massive complications due to an infection, 6 months in the hospital, 60 plus surgeries I would do it again, I lost 200# and have kept it off for 10 yrs, and got rid of high blood pressue, diabetes, high cholsterol and depression. I went back to my physician and he was shocked what I had lost so much weight, he didn’t recognize me (he deliverd my three kids), he said you finally listened to me and joined ww, I said no I had gastric bypass, he stood and asked me to leave his office he said I can’t believe you did that! My comment was it saved my life and you have an awful lot to learn its to bad you don’t see it that way. I have never seen him again.

  • Claire Peters
    June 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

    I must agree with Joe and with Lori. I am absolutely amazed by the fact that so many primary physicians frown on weight loss surgery as an option. My own physician frowned at me when I told her gastric bypass was in my future. Her attitude was shocking to me, and I quickly realized that I knew far more about this and other weight loss surgery options than she did. For a family doctor this is insane, ESPECIALLY because of the obesity epidemic.

    Clearly, surgery is not for everyone, but the fact that doctors fluff off such an important and viable option is not acceptable.

    In fact, my own gastric bypass surgery took place in April, 2007, when I was 67 years of age. I lost 132 lbs, and have kept it off. The quality of my life has changed dramatically. But I’m preaching to the choir here. :)

    Education is the key. And physicians need to educate themselves in ALL weight loss genres.

    Best regards to all,

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