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Obese Americans Get High Quality Medical Care
Date:4/6/2010

measures in both groups of patients there was no indication that obese or overweight patients had lower odds of getting the recommended care, compared with normal-weight patients, Chang's team found.

In many cases, obese and overweight patients had better chances of getting optimal care compared to normal-weight patients, the researchers found.

More aggressive treatment for obese patients was seen most among the Medicare group, where many more overweight and obese patients had their cholesterol levels and blood sugar screened.

In addition, a slightly higher number of obese and overweight patients in both groups received vaccinations against the flu and pneumococcal viruses. In the Medicare population there were also slightly higher rates of breast cancer screening, and among VA patients a higher rate of colorectal and cervical cancer screening versus that experienced by normal-weight patients.

"While it may be true that physicians and other health-care providers harbor negative attitudes towards obesity is does not seem to be borne out in lower quality of care. They are actually doing a good job," Chang said.

Another expert agreed.

"I think our obese patients sometimes get better care than the people who are not because of their known risk factors," said Dr. Robert Schwartz, professor and chair of the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "So when an obese patient comes into the office we are probably hyper-vigilant rather than less vigilant."

Schwartz noted that obese patients may feel they have more difficulty with the health-care system because the usual recommendation from doctors is often to diet and lose weight.

"Many obese patients are sensitive about their conditions," he noted. But health problems associated with obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease, mean these patients will need more medical attention. <
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