Why should a busy healthcare provider take time out of their day to treat obesity when their patients are dealing with so many other health issues? This seems to be the prevailing question among many providers, despite obesity’s 2013 designation as a disease. There are so many other diseases and ailments that need to be treated, so why obesity?
The answer: Because we can’t afford not to! And that applies to time, money and the health of your patients.
It’s true that chronic diseases suck up the majority of healthcare resources: 75 percent of all health care costs are linked to chronic conditions. People with chronic conditions are the most frequent users of health care in the U.S., and they account for 81 percent of hospital admissions; 91 percent of all prescriptions filled; and 76 percent of all physician visits. Chronic disease is widespread, and it’s only getting worse. By 2025, chronic diseases will affect an estimated 164 million Americans — nearly half (49 percent) of the population
In response to the growing concern over chronic disease, many healthcare providers and hospitals are investing thousands of dollars in resources and time to implement multi-level treatment plans targeting chronic conditions. But the question many advocates are forgetting to ask is: What is one of the most common links between many chronic conditions?
The answer: OBESITY.
Obesity is associated with significantly increased risk of more than 20 chronic diseases and health conditions that cause devastating consequences and increased mortality. Consider the following statistics:
- In the often-cited Framingham Offspring Study, obesity was responsible for 78 percent of cases of hypertension in men and 64 percent in women
- The well-known Nurses’ Health Study of more than 44,000 women found high waist circumference resulted in a two-fold increase in coronary heart disease
- More than 85 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight, and more than 50 percent are obese
- Overweight and obesity are associated with increased mortality from diabetes and kidney disease, resulting in over 60,000 excess deaths per year
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Obesity, in many cases, is the direct cause of many of the chronic conditions that we are spending so much time and money treating. Many of these conditions can be prevented, delayed, or alleviated by simply treating the cause, not just the symptoms. Research shows that modest weight loss (five to 10 percent of body weight) can reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions dramatically, and this amount of weight loss is achievable through physician supervised medical weight management.
Not only can obesity treatment save physicians time and money by reducing healthcare costs associated with comorbid chronic conditions, it can minimize revenue loss, minimize the economic burden on doctors and hospitals, and even serve as a consistent closed referral loop and revenue stream. To learn more about the financial and economic benefits of obesity treatment, download our free white paper, “The Price of Obesity: Costs beyond Patient Health.”
Are you still asking yourself, “Why treat obesity?”