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The US Preventive Services Task Force suggests doctors prescrive counseling, not medication, for obese patients.
More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Now a panel of health professionals is urging doctors to prescribe their overweight patients with counseling not medicine.
Along with prescribing counseling, the US Preventive Services Task Force also advised that all doctors screen every patient for obesity, according to US News and World Report.
The group advised that patients being treated for obesity seek at least 12 to 26 counseling sessions in the first several months. The panel found evidence of positive weight-loss results when patients attended at least a dozen sessions in the first year, US News and World Report noted.
"We found that some weight-loss programs do work, and often the gateway to finding the right program can be through your physician," David Grossman, a member of the task force, told USA Today.
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Grossman noted that weight-loss counseling and programs focus on changing patient's lifestyles, not just their food. "Some commercial and non-profit weight-management programs offer many of these features."
While obesity may be expanding America's waistline, it is also shrinking our wallets. A study published in the Journal of Health Economics estimated that $190.2 billion a year is spent on obesity-related healthcare costs.
US News and World Report noted that if the US obesity rate could remain steady and not continue on its upward trajectory, it could save the US economy almost $550 billion in healthcare costs over the next 20 years.