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New Guidelines for Weight-loss Surgery Recommendations

New Guidelines for Weight-loss Surgery Recommendations

A group of medical organizations including the American College of Cardiology, the Obesity Society, and The American Heart Association has released new guidelines for recommending weight-loss surgery. These recommendations mark a shift towards more aggressive treatment of the obesity epidemic in the United States. Physicians are encouraged to be proactive in addressing excess weight issues in their patients.

Simply telling patients they need to lose weight has proven ineffective in efforts to reduce the proportion of Americans who are overweight or obese. The new guidelines recommend calculation of each patient’s body mass index (BMI) as part of a regular physical. If the BMI is too high, plans are to be developed for ways to help the patient lose weight. Most insurance companies are expected to include counseling and other treatments for obesity as covered benefits. Medicare began paying for personal counseling sessions this past year.

Obesity and Health Risks

Over one third of American adults are obese, a figure unchanged since the turn of the century. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or higher and carries with it increased risk for serious health conditions. Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other conditions are more common among obese patients. Often, loss of weight alone can bring these conditions under control.

New Guidelines

The new guidelines recommend the following:

1. Annual physicals should include calculation of  BMI, measurement of waists, and advising patients of the fact if these indicate they are overweight or obese.

2. A weight-loss plan that includes some restriction of calories and increased activity should be developed with the patient.

3. Weight-loss (bariatric) surgery should be considered for patients with BMI of 40 or more. Patients with BMI of 35 to 40 who have at least two other risk factors for heart disease should also be considered candidates for such procedures.

4. Overweight and obese patients should be referred to weight-loss programs. Programs that include at least 14 face-to-face sessions over a six month period with a professional who specializes in weight management have proven more effective than web or phone-based sessions.

Physicians and staff of Advanced Surgical Associates support these recommendations and are ready to help individuals who need surgical help to return to a healthy weight.