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Panel Urges Obesity Screening for All Adults

< Jun. 27, 2012 > -- If your doctor takes time to figure out your body mass index (BMI) the next time you're in for an office visit, don't be surprised. This week, a national advisory panel issued new guidelines calling for across-the-board obesity screening for adults.

Photo of skin-fold check

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which published the new guidelines in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also said that doctors should refer obese patients for counseling on healthy lifestyles that could help them lose weight.

Obesity now affects more than a third of U.S. adults, according to the CDC. Obesity can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Even modest weight loss can help prevent those problems.

"The clinician plays an important role in helping to identify and get services for obesity," says David Grossman, M.D. a task force member. "Even just a 5 percent weight loss can make a huge difference in someone's health."

Related guidelines

The task force also issued companion guidelines to help doctors figure out which obese patients at risk for heart disease might benefit from healthy lifestyle changes.

The best way to tell if you're obese - or overweight - is to calculate your BMI, a measure of your height compared with your weight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese, the CDC says. A BMI from 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI from 18 to 24.9 is normal.

The task force said that doctors could also use a patient's waist circumference to help determine obesity.

Weight-loss programs

The guidelines did not include any specific weight-loss plans, but Dr. Grossman said an effective program would offer at least once-a-month sessions. An effective program should include nutrition counseling, exercise and physical activity, and a method for tracking progress over time. And once the weight is off, the program should help people maintain their new, healthy weight.

The task force did not offer guidelines for patients who are overweight (instead of obese), because it didn't find enough evidence on what would be most helpful. It also didn't include obese children in the latest guidelines. Guidelines for this age group had already been issued.

For more information on health and wellness, please visit health information modules on this website.

Pondering Portion Sizes

What you eat is important for weight management, but so is how much you eat. Figuring out serving sizes doesn't require complex weights and measures. Use these everyday examples to help you gauge what's on your plate:

  • 1/2 cup cooked rice is the size of an ice cream scoop

  • 1 cup dry cereal is the size of a large handful

  • 1 medium-sized piece of fruit is the size of a baseball

  • 1 cup vegetables is the size of your fist

  • 1-1/2 ounces cheese is the size of a pair of dominoes or dice

  • 3 ounces meat or fish is the size of a deck of cards or your palm

  • 1 teaspoon butter or margarine is the size of the tip of your thumb

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

Annals of Internal Medicine - Screening for and Management of Obesity in Adults

CDC - Overweight and Obesity

Weight-control Information Network - Understanding Adult Obesity