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Screen All Adults for Obesity: U.S. Panel
Date:6/26/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new guidelines Monday recommending that doctors screen all of their patients for obesity and when appropriate, refer them to a comprehensive lifestyle-management program to help them lose weight.

The government task force didn't recommend any weight-loss medications, nor did it address weight-loss surgery.

The task force also issued a second set of guidelines to help doctors identify which patients might benefit most from healthy lifestyle counseling to avoid heart health problems.

Both sets of guidelines appear in the June 26 online edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"The obesity screening recommendations are an update of existing recommendations that we felt was necessary because the evidence has increased and strengthened the argument for physicians to screen all of their patients for obesity," explained task force member Dr. David Grossman, medical director of preventive care at Group Health Cooperative, in Seattle.

In addition, Grossman said, "The magnitude of the problem has increased, and the clinician plays an important role in helping to identify and get services for obesity. Even just a 5 percent weight loss can make a huge difference in someone's health."

The new guidelines recommend that physicians screen all of their patients for obesity by measuring height and weight to assess their body mass index. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Below 25 is considered normal weight.

The guidelines also say that physicians can use waist circumference to assess obesity. That's because abdominal fat can be a predictor of obesity-related diseases, according to the CDC.

The task force did not advise physicians on how to counsel overweight (but not obese) patients -- those w
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