The CDC recently published a data report regarding increasing obesity rates in our country. The report notes different levels of prevalence correlating to age, sex, race, and ethnicity. As healthcare professionals, this data does not come as a surprise. All of us in the medical field see this on a daily basis. The report tells us that obesity rates are higher among non-Hispanic blacks and the Hispanic population and lower among the non-Hispanic white population. The report also indicates that women have higher rates of obesity than men with no statistical variance based on race. One of the most important — and one can say terrifying — findings relates to the increasing prevalence of obesity in the youth. The prevalence of obesity in children between the ages of 2 and 19 years is 18.9%, a material increase from the 15% rate of 10 years ago. Again, to medical personnel working with adults or children, these statistics only corroborate what we see in our daily practice. One might even consider the report to understate the true prevalence of obesity, as it does not fully take the uninsured and undocumented populations into account. Unfortunately, the obese patient often needs to overcome several obstacles before getting the treatment or attention he or she needs, ranging from personal insecurities to the perceived taboo of getting treatment for the condition. One great development that has occurred in recent years is the availability of weight loss pharmacotherapy. Currently, there are four different medications that are FDA approved for chronic treatment of obesity; however, these are generally underutilized due to many physicians’ lack of comfort with prescribing them. Past medications for weight loss were found to produce more harm than benefit. This has changed. We need to be more informed about these drugs and their ability to help the patient achieve a greater weight loss in conjunction with a treatment plan that includes a healthy diet and exercise. The alarming results the CDC study and many others indicate that we need to offer more help to the patient other than recommending a healthy diet and exercise.
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