Survey of physicians shows concern about obesity

by Eric Schroeder
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SAN MATEO, CALIF. — A new survey of 580 U.S. physicians shows obesity continues to be the nation’s most severe health issue. The "2007 Obesity Report," conducted by mobile and web-based product supplier Epocrates, Inc., found 90% of physicians believe the percentage of overweight patients has increased in the past five years.

"This survey shows how pervasive obesity is across the nation, and how crucial it is for physicians to educate their patients about its risks," said Dr. Liviu Klein, M.D., M.S., the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, Northwestern University Hospital. "Studies show that excess weight puts undue strain on vital organs and can lead to a multitude of serious health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Education around the negative health effects of smoking has dramatically decreased adult use of tobacco in the last 20 years, and we hope awareness around the obesity-related co-morbidity risks will have a similar and more immediate impact."

While researchers and patients may blame genetics for obesity, physicians in the Epocrates study largely pointed to lack of exercise and oversized food portions as the greatest contributors to the problem.

According to the survey, 51% of physicians blamed individuals for being the primary cause for the obesity crisis, followed by the food industry at 29% and family at 9%. Interestingly, though, was the fact that only 6% of physicians felt the food industry was most responsible for solving the obesity crisis. Fifteen per cent said government should be responsible, while individuals led the way at 44%.

As far as initiatives that will have the most significant impact on addressing obesity, 36% of physicians cited banning soda machines in schools, followed by 33% who said eliminating fast foods in schools. Nineteen per cent of those surveyed said television advertisements about better nutrition will be significant, while 13% pointed to the growth of portion control snack packs.

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