Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Doctors tackle their own weight problems:AMA wants physicians to set an example for their patients

“I’m Michael and I’m obese.” Doctors laughed at the American Medical Association annual meeting when one of their own stood up Monday to admit his girth, but the subject was serious: physicians tackling the nation’s obesity epidemic by addressing their own weight problems.

Dr. Michael Fleming — the Shreveport, La., family physician who prompted the chuckles Monday — said he has decided to wear a pedometer and take 10,000 steps daily. It is the same advice doctors give patients and a message the American Academy of Family Physicians is relaying to its more than 90,000 members so they can serve as role models.......The separate informational obesity discussion, which drew an overflow crowd of more than 150 doctors, harkened to the AMA’s stand in 1968 urging doctors to quit smoking themselves and post no-smoking signs in their offices to set an example. The AMA is seeking to give obesity the same attention.

Before I started to work out and keep away from the Big Macs I carried 310 pounds on a 6'4" frame with a resultant BMI of 37. I felt uncomfortable discussing weight loss with patients because I felt like a hypocrite. I am now down to 270. I still don't discuss it much however. The main reason I did was to try to get hernia patients to lose weight.

Some think a good place to start is at the meetings themselves:

Some of the doctors ate high-calorie sweet rolls and muffins provided at the hotel. One doctor took the microphone and said more healthful food should be served at such meetings to set an example.

“We should start with ourselves” and offer food like bran muffins “instead of the hyper-cholesterol meals,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Bradshaw, a public health specialist from Arizona.

But there are a few voices crying out for some personal responsibility:

But Dr. Paul Handel of Houston told participants, “The obesity epidemic is not the fault of Krispy Kreme or McDonald’s. Unless we rekindle some sense of personal responsibility ... 20 years from now we will still be struggling to treat” the problem.
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