American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for August 2003 (first issue)


Criticism of obese individuals is the last socially acceptable form of prejudice in the United States, according to an article in the American Thoracic Society journal on the management of obesity. One study showed that 63 percent of family practice physicians attributed obesity to a lack of will power, and more than one-third described their obese patients as "lazy." Overweight and obesity are very serious problems in the U.S. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report indicated that 65 percent of all Americans are either overweight or obese. The number of obese Americans has more than doubled in the last 20 years. As studies have shown, the problem can lead to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and sleep apnea, among other illnesses. The article's expert author points out that, when they visit a physician, few patients consider weight to be their main problem. He advises doctors to listen carefully to the problem that the patient wants to discuss. Also, he advises that physicians provide the same care to obese patients as to non-obese. While encouraging the patient to lose weight, they should be sure to treat their other conditions. In addition, the doctor should never provide medical care at the expense of the patient's self-esteem. Although pharmacotherapy for weight loss in the past has been fraught with inappropriate practices, two drugs, Sibutramine and Orlistat, have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use with patients with high body mass index of 30 or more (27 with other related problems). In dozens of randomized clinical trials, these two drugs have been shown to be safe and effective in properly selected patients, producing weight loss of from 8 to 10 percent over 2 years. After outlining specific guidelines that physicians can offer to patients to help them improve their behavior necessary for effective weight loss, the author points out tha

Contact: Cathy Carlomagno
American Thoracic Society

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