Obesity levels in the United States are a significant concern, as the most recently available obesity statistics, based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data, on a state-wide basis, find that seven U.S. states have adult obesity rates that exceed 35 percent.
Additionally, the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reports that 18.5 percent of children and 39.6 percent of adults were struggling with obesity in 2015-2016. Those are the highest rates ever documented by NHANES.
And if you want an even more eye-opening number, the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) estimates that 93 million Americans are affected by obesity. Medical conditions such as diabetes, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea are directly related to obesity.
As a result of those sobering statistics, “the demand for effective and safe weight loss programs will be with us for a long time, due to our culture and eating habits,” says MarketResearch.com.
So, why aren’t more physicians providing weight loss programs for their overweight patients? According to MarketReasearch.com, there are four reasons: “First, many doctors are reluctant to tell their patients that they need to lose weight. Second, most doctors don’t have training in nutrition. Third, most doctors don’t have the business/marketing skills to operate a profitable program. And fourth, many feel that they just don’t have the time or staff to do it.”
3 Business Reasons to Start a Weight Management Program
A physician adding weight loss to his/her practice is a “natural fit,” says MarketResearch.com. “Patients already have a long-term relationship with their doctor,” and “doctors have a built-in client base and don’t have to spend as much on marketing and ‘branding’ to reach these patients.” In addition, “doctors are better able to address obesity-related conditions than commercial diet chains (high blood pressure, diabetes, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, and post-menopausal hormone imbalance, for example).”
MarketResearch.com suggests several reasons why MDs should consider offering a weight management program for their patients. Three of those reasons include:
1. Medical weight loss programs have a significant competitive advantage over commercial weight loss companies The Affordable Care Act (ACA – a.k.a. Obamacare) Preventative Care Benefit, which took effect January 2014, mandates that insurers pay for obesity screening and counseling for people with a BMI of 30+, counseled by “qualified weight loss professionals” (MDs, RDs, PAs, nurses). This benefit is worth $1,625/year and covers up to 14 counseling sessions in six months. This is an unprecedented opportunity for medically supervised weight loss programs to provide a higher level of service than commercial diet centers — it’s essentially free of charge for patients with insurance.
2. Consultants have proven that MDs can add $250,000 (part-time) to $1+ million per year (full-time) in revenues to their practice by adding a weight loss program, either by setting up a stand-alone weight loss center or by utilizing existing space and staff on a part-time basis.
3. Medical weight loss programs in the U.S. generated an estimated $7.69 billion in 2017 (more than twice the value of commercial chains), and 5.6 percent average annual growth in this market is forecast to 2019.
And here’s a bonus reason, MarketResearch.com says that more MDs are adding weight loss programs to their practice to make up for lost income and declining insurance reimbursement. “Internists, general practitioners, family doctors, OB/GYNs and RNs are especially well-suited to add weight loss.”
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