WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Community health centers (CHCs) and primary care providers working in other settings will increasingly become America's obesity "first responders," needed to provide weight-related health services as the nation continues to implement the Affordable Care Act. In a paper released today, the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance identified a wide gap between the anticipated increase of people with weight-related conditions entering the health care system and a corresponding limited number of health professionals who are trained to help them. Considering the role CHCs may play in providing primary care to this newly-insured population, the Alliance worked to assess their readiness, and found ways that could improve obesity management services in the centers and other primary care settings.
The research, conducted by The George Washington University, demonstrated the need to reduce barriers to managing obesity by increasing the education on how to properly advise patients on weight loss, eliminating stigma about weight issues and maintaining focus on weight as a health issue.
"We have a unique opportunity to help more patients as they gain access to care," said Alliance Director Christine Ferguson, J.D. "And there are lessons we can learn from the innovative initiatives being taken locally to more effectively manage and prevent obesity."
The Alliance's research team found that some CHCs have targeted, innovative programs that address obesity and chronic disease in place and identified key areas that can increase the effectiveness of obesity management including:
1. Increasing Integration and Care Coordination using a team-based approach to obesity management including combinations of physicians, nurse practitioners, psychologists, or other mental health professionals, dietitians, and physical therapists.
2. Creating Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Programming creati
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