Few Primary Care Physicians Treat Obesity

January 14th, 2014 No comments »

Only a quarter of  U.S. primary care physicians surveyed are doing a thorough job of helping patients achieve and maintain a healthy weight, finds a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

“We found that most primary care practices have few resources for supporting efforts to assess and counsel patients about diet, exercise and weight control,” said lead author Carrie Klabunde, Ph.D., of the cancer control and population sciences division of the National Cancer Institute.

A random sample of 1,740 U.S. physicians participated in the study. Each participant completed two sequential questionnaires, one about their work with patients and one about their practice’s resources. 26 percent of the participating physicians reported closely following established guidelines for what the authors call “energy balance care.” Such guideline-based care would include regular assessment of BMI, counseling on nutrition, physical activity or weight control, and systematic tracking of patients’ progress with weight issues over time.

The survey group included office-based family physicians or general internists, obstetrician/gynecologists and pediatricians.  Striking specialty differences emerged, with comprehensive weight management services being most commonly offered by pediatricians (40.1 percent) and least often by obstetricians/gynecologist (8.4 percent).

Practices located in the Southeast and in smaller cities or rural areas were less likely to provide comprehensive services than ones in the Northeast or in larger cities.  Female physicians and non-white physicians more often provided comprehensive services than males and whites did.

Klabunde noted that the availability of nonphysician staff such as dieticians, nutritionists or health educators and the use of full electronic health records (EHRs) and reminders—which support comprehensive services—were especially rare. In addition, the study showed that practices that billed for energy balance services were more likely to provide such counseling and to routinely track patients’ progress, as compared to those that didn’t bill for the services.

When a primary care physician does seriously encourage patients to control their weight, Klabunde said, their support can “serve as an important prompt for overweight or inactive individuals to adopt better habits.”  (Source: Health Behavior News Service, Center for Advancing Health)

More than 80% of PCPs reported having information resources on diet, physical activity and weight control available but fewer billed for services, used reminder services or received incentive payments. PCPs using electronic medical records or those that billed provided weight management care more often and comprehensively. Pediatricians were more like and ob-gyns less likely that peers to provide treatment in the study.

 

Look AHEAD Crashes

October 22nd, 2012 No comments »

 

Behind Look Ahead

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced that the Look AHEAD trial has been stopped in its 11th year, two years short of completion. The extensive trial, involving over 5,000 patients at 16 centers, was intended to find out if there was increased mortality from intentional weight loss and to see if intentional weight loss among obese patients with type 2 diabetes would result in fewer cardiovascular (CV) events. At the end of the trial, there was no difference between the study group, which received intensive behavioral counseling and the control group which received standard diabetes education and occasional support group meetings.  The NIH press release indicates that both arms had lower CV rates that reported for patients with diabetes in previous studies. NIHNEWS: Weight Loss Not Reduce CV events in Type 2 diabetes

While this is news is something of a shock, many folks saw it coming. Two years into the trial, which began in 2001, the monitoring board noticed that the event rate in the control arm was much lower than expected. The expected CVD event rate in the control arm was 3.125% per year; in fact it was 0.7%. A committee was formed and made changes to the original study protocol designed to capture more events. These changes went into effect in 2008. There appeared to be three reasons for the lower event rate. First, while cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the major cause of death in the United States, mortality has gone down, resulting from better control of dyslipidemia and high blood pressure and improved care of chronic and acute coronary syndromes. (See NCHS Data Brief, NCHS DataBrief: Prevalence of Uncontrolled Risk Factors for CVD)  Second, study participants who choose to involve themselves in a long clinical trial may well be healthier than a community sample and more motivated to follow the diet and exercise and participation requirements. Finally, the Look AHEAD trial employed the Graded Exercise Test which excluded participants most likely to develop CVD. Because of the low event rate, an additional primary endpoint was added (hospitalized angina) and the trial was extended for 2 years. (See PubMed: Brancati_Midcourse Correction to clinical trial whe the event rate is underestimated: the Look Ahead Study) Readers may recall that the SCOUT trial of sibutramine also had to revise its protocol midway through the study for the same reason, resulting in a population which was older and sicker than typical clinical population. In both cases, revising the protocol did not favor the intervention.

The stopping of Look AHEAD raises a host of questions. Was the study protocol correct? Did it end up studying healthy obese diabetics? Do long-term studies produce more noise than insight? Are we really studying the aging process when we cannot control for changes in health status, drug utilization (including drugs which can increase weight) and changes in energy intake, fitness levels, etc.? What is the picture for sub-groups, such as the 60-74 age group which had good weight loss in the DPP and 4 year results of Look AHEAD? Were there specific improvements, such as reductions in medications usage, fewer hospitalizations or shorter length of stays, improvements in quality of life? Did the presence of any the alleles associated with success in bariatric surgery affect outcomes? PubMed: High allelic burden of four obesity SNPs associated with poorer wt loss.  Should future efforts be devoted to cases where the disease process is already well-established or where high-risk populations can be identified and appropriate interventions evaluated? In future trials, should comorbid management be left to the local standards of care or defined in the study protocol?

Looking Ahead of Look Ahead

Whither behavioral lifestyle interventions?

The lifestyle interventions in the DPP and Look AHEAD were regarded as the ‘gold standard.’ They involved recruiting and training health professionals who provided not only the intervention but provided a supportive environment and a community spirit. Extensive communication with the patient was maintained. PUBMED: Look AHEAD: Description of the Lifestyle Intervention. Look AHEAD  participants even received an honoraria of $100 at each annual visit to improve adherence. (FDA EMDAC Hearing, March 28, 2012, Dr. Rena Wing, transcript, p. 169).

Recently the CDC and the NIH were looking at ways to take the DPP/Look AHEAD model to a more replicable model. The CDC’s National DPP program awarded $6.75 million in grants to develop lifestyle interventions program among people at high risk. One involves using the YMCA to provide lifestyle counseling. http://www.ymca.net/diabetes-prevention/ Questions will certainly be asked if highly trained professionals with incentives for participants did not produce better results will a down-scale program do better?

Whither diabetes prevention?

Look AHEAD was designed following the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The DPP established that both lifestyle changes and metformin could reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes, through weight loss, although lifestyle was superior to metformin alone. Look AHEAD was taking this important finding one step further asking whether weight loss among type 2 diabetics would reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events.

Even though the DPP has been promoted as a model for preventing the development of type 2 diabetes through weight loss, there were problems.

Dr. William Knowler of the National Institute on Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) told the FDA Advisory Committee earlier this year,that, after three years of the DPP,

“the rates (of development of type 2 diabetes) have tended to flatten out and become parallel among all three groups. The rate of new development of diabetes has actually slowed down in the placebo and metformin groups, compared to what it was in the first three years. And the lifestyle group has flattened out a little bit at the end, but the difference that was attained has been largely maintained over time.  Notice, though, that over 10 years, although there still are remarkable treatment effects, if you look at things in an absolute sense, we can’t say that we still know how to prevent diabetes because, still, close to half of the people who enrolled in the trial developed diabetes over a 10-year period. But at least it’s been substantially delayed in those who have had the interventions.” ( FDA Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drug Advisory Committee Hearing on assessing cardiovascular safety of obesity drugs, March 28, 2012, Transcript, p 131-2).


(Figure: Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study, Lancet (2009) 374; 1677-1686)

Is ‘delaying’ diabetes onset as powerful as ‘preventing’ diabetes from occurring in the competitive race for health care dollars and public attention?

Furthermore, a study earlier this year indicate poor outcomes in drug treatment of adolescents with type 2 diabetes with barely half showing glycemic control with metformin. PubMed: Clinical Trial to Maintain Glycemic Control in Youth with Type 2 Diabetes

Will the Look AHEAD experience affect FDA approval of drugs and devices to treat obesity?

The FDA has viewed obesity as a cosmetic issue and only recently acknowledged it as a disease, worthy of attention as other cardiovascular risk factors. They (meaning the FDA Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drug Advisory Committee and FDA staff) have started, just barely, to view obesity as a cardiovascular disease risk factor, like hypertension. They have also opined, from time to time, that if folks only ate less and exercised more, they would not need drugs. So how does this decision play into these views? On one hand, they may be convinced that obesity is not so easy to treat as they thought by diet and exercise. On the other hand, they may think that there is less need for anti-obesity medications because other treatments, e.g. statins, lipid-lowering drugs, anti-hypertensives, are doing their job in reducing CV risk factors. So, this view may raise the bar for approval of new anti-obesity medications. On the other (the third?) hand, we may need a re-definition of obesity which tones down its “diabetes-metabolic syndrome-mortality” axis and raises its “disability-mobility-quality of life” axis. (Running out of hands here, I would not underestimate the potential for greater evidence of obesity’s role in the development of various cancers).

The recent trend in thinking at the FDA Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drug Advisory Committee (EMDAC) has been to view anti-obesity medications narrowly as cardiovascular disease treatments. The EMDAC met on March 28th and 29th,2012  and discussed how to assess the cardiovascular benefits and safety of anti-obesity medications. At the end of March 28, Dr. Rasmussen, who is the Industry Representative on the committee had the following exchange with Dr. Eric Coleman of the FDA.

Dr. Rasmussen: In your (Dr. Colman’s) presentation, you showed that there are different            populations pre-approval and in post-approval studies. ..Are we compromising the risk-            benefit evaluation if we impose more risk-based patients pre-approval?

Dr. Colman: I’m not sure I understood your question. Could you rephrase it?

Dr. Rasmussen: Maybe I’m preempting some of the discussion that we’ll be having                        tomorrow, whether we should require more high-risk CV patients pre-approval to rule out        a upper bound of the 95 percent confidence interval. But by doing so, we will likely be                including older patients with established cardiovascular risk disease. And I’m wondering          whether including more of those types of patients will compromise the benefits side of                doing the benefit-risk evaluation.

Dr. Coleman: Yes. And it might be that if the program had the resources to do this, that              that would just be one component of the program, and that there would be other be other,        smaller, shorter-term studies where they could study lower-risk individuals, younger                   individuals for shorter periods of time.

Dr. Rasmussen: But my concern was based on the fact that the SCOUT study didn’t really – I      mean, it looks like it wouldn’t be actually be able to be approved if it was submitted pre-            approval. ..(FDA EMDAC, March 28, 2012, transcript at p. 334-5)

On the second day of the hearing, Dr. Rasmussen returned to the topic.

Dr. Rasmussen: So I would just like to add a little bit of perspective on what “enrichment”          (Editor: “enrichment” is the term used here by the FDA referring to adding persons at high        risk of CVD to the pool of subjects in obesity drug trials) in this context will mean. I mean, I      did a little bit of “back-of-the-envelope” calculation, and maybe we’ll have that confirmed        after lunch. But, I mean, current programs, approximately 3,000 patient-years of                        exposure generate 15 MACE events or so. Even if we were to double that patient-year                  exposure with a population of a 3-percent annual event rate coming to additional 60                    events, we would still only be able to exclude a doubling of the hazard ratio. So, I mean,              what we’re talking about here is actually completely shifting the population that we’re                going to study in obesity programs to establish cardiovascular disease and not necessarily        the population that we know actually seek treatment in the real world. So, I think that’s              worth keeping in mind, that enrichment may sound appealing because it sounds like we will       add a fraction of sick patients, but in reality, this will be a complete shift of the population.        (FDA, EMDAC, March 29, 2012, at p. 169)

(Dr. Rasmussen’s calculations appear correction. The cardiovascular safety trial the FDA asked Orexigen Therapeutics to undertake surpassed its original goal of 7,000 patients in process of enrolling 9,000 patients to find 87 major CV events earlier than expected. Orexigen: Press Release Contrave CV study.)

A bit later, Dr. Rena Wing was asked about the influence of statins on the Look AHEAD trial. She responded:

Number one, that more and more people are being treated with statins. There’s better                blood sugar control. There’s better hypertension control. So you’re going to have to look          at what’s going to happen to the event rates in these studies. I was very surprised that your      event rates that you’re showing me in many of these trials looked so high compared to the        event rates we’re seeing in Look AHEAD. Now, some of that is because we did do GXTs.                (Editor: Graded Exercise Tests.) We did select healthier patients. But I also think that if you      are doing trials, in the United States especially, and with diabetics where there’s more and        more emphasis on increasing the use of lipids, increasing their blood pressure control, that      you’re going to be driving down your risk factors, and you’re going to have more and more      confounds with medication. (FDA, EMDAC, March 29, 2012 transcript, at p. 346)

At the Cleveland Clinic’s Obesity Summit earlier this month, I asked cardiologist Steve Nissen about the FDA’s pushing companies to undertake clinical trials to rule out a CVD risk. He responded that one of the challenges of cardiovascular outcome studies of obesity drugs is that in order to get enough cv events you have to study patients with existing heart disease or at very high risk of a cv event . This pushes the trial into populations which are considerably sicker than the population likely to take the obesity drug. He suggested that FDA should look at absolute risk rather than the relative risk of the drug. If one looks at the absolute risk, you can study any reasonable population likely to take the drug. This change in the statistical approach allows one to study more typical populations.

 

In any event, it will be sometime before we know how the newer anti-obesity medications, like Contrave if approved), Belviq™ and Qysemia™ will impact cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Bariatric Surgery: Last Man Standing?

A study out of the Cleveland Clinic published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April, 2012 followed over 90% of 150 patients for 12 months. The study, a face to face comparison of medical therapy versus surgery in patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, showed a clear superiority for bariatric surgery.  The proportion of patients achieving a hemoglobin A1c level of 6% after 12 months by medical therapy alone was 12%; for those in the medical plus gastric bypass surgical group it was 42% and for the medical plus sleeve-gastrectomy group it was 37%. Weight loss was greater in the gastric bypass group (-24kg) and sleeve gastretcomy group (-25.1kg) than in the medical therapy group (-5.4kg). Use of drugs for glucose control, lipids and blood pressure control decreased in the surgical group but increased in the medical group. PubMed: Bariatric surgery versus intensive medical therapy in obese patients with diabetes

In regard to cardiovascular risk factors, a systematic review of the literature on bariatric surgery analyzed over 60 studies involving 19,543 patients. At baseline, the mean patient was 41.7 years old, female and had a BMI of 47.1. Baseline prevalence of comorbid conditions which increase risk of CVD was hypertension (44.4%), diabetes (24%) and hyperlipidemia (43.6%). After correcting for publication bias, 36% of subjects had improvements in hypertension, 26% for diabetes and 34% for hyperlipidemia. Calculating the changes for mean participants, the authors found that a woman, without baseline CVD, diabetes or smoking, who is taking anti-hypertensive drugs, will move from an 8.6% 10 year global risk for CVD to a 3.9% risk. A man, with no CVD or smoking but whose diabetes and need for anti-hypertensive drugs resolves after surgery, will move from a 10 year global risk of 18.4% to 4.7%. PubMed: Bariatric Surgery and Cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review

So, where are we? The gold standard of lifestyle change is tarnished. The drug story is muddy at best. Bariatric surgery is clearly producing the superior results. However, access to surgery is, and will remain, a problem. The challenge for the leaders in the field is to find ways to have surgery reach more people and not be a procedure for the 1 percent. Even with greater access to surgery, the obesity-diabetes epidemic will continue to be a major health crisis. It’s time to be humble in the face of this disease and realize a lot more research is going to be needed…and soon.

 

How to communicate with a child about their weight

September 27th, 2012 No comments »

For parents, there are a number of tense situations involving raising a sensitive issue with your children. Their weight is one of the most sensitive. So the STOP Obesity Alliance and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation have issued a conversation guide for parents and caregivers on how to approach issues, such as, understanding the BMI, cultural differences, body image, bullying, weight bias, inter-family weight differences, and, parental obesity. To access the materials, go to http://www.stopobesityalliance.org/research-and-policy/alliance-initiatives/families/

Medicare Urged to cover Intensive Counseling

September 28th, 2011 No comments »

As we announced before, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is evaluating   including intensive behavioral counseling for adults with obesity as a Medicare benefit. Below are comments we just filed with Medicare. (The comment period closes September 30, 2011)  Readers still have time to submit their own comments.

Sarah McClain, MHS
Lead Analyst
Coverage and
Analysis Group
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mail Stop C1-09-06
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850
 

Dear Ms. McClain,

 The proposed coverage of intensive behavioral counseling of adults for obesity is both indicated by its endorsement by the United States Preventive Services Task Force , subsequent literature, and two studies published in the last month.

 

The Look AHEAD study has focused on the benefits of lifestyle changes to achieve weight loss in overweight/obese participants with type 2 diabetes. The study population which received intensive lifestyle intervention (such as that contained in the proposed decision memorandum) obtained superior results to those receiving usual care (diabetes support and education.) At year 4, there was a 4.7% reduction from initial weight in the intensive lifestyle group compared to 1.1% in the usual care group. 46% of the intensive lifestyle group lost more than 5% of initial weight and 23% lost more than 10%. (The usual care group saw 25% lose more than 5% and 10% lose more than 10%.) 

As these results would predict, the intensive lifestyle group had significantly greater improvements in glycemic control and several markers of cardiovascular disease risk.  

As with the Diabetes Prevention Program, the study’s oldest participants, 65-74 years of age, lost significantly more weight than younger counterparts at all 4 years, and reported lower daily caloric intake, higher physical activity and overall greater adherence to the behavioral program. (Wadden TA, Neiberg RH, Wing RR, et al, Four-Year Weight Losses in the Look AHEAD Study: Factors Associated with Long-Term Success, Obesity (2011) 19;10: 1987-1996.) 

Thus, it appears that Medicare could ‘look ahead’ with some confidence that the proposed benefit can result in immediate health improvements to Medicare beneficiaries.

 

These health improvements can be economically quantified, although that is not necessary for the purposes of National Coverage Determinations. Recently, Dr. Kenneth Thorpe reported that a 10% reduction in weight in persons with obesity  age 60-64 could provide Medicare with savings of $1.8 to $2.3 billion over ten years and even more if overweight pre-diabetic adults were included. (Thorpe KE, Yang Z, Enrolling people with prediabetes ages 60-64 in proven weight loss program could save Medicare $7 billion or more. Health Affairs 2011 Sep; 30(9):1673-9)  While the study participants did not achieve the 10% criteria, their remarkable results indicate a significant cost saving to the Medicare program could be achieved.

For these reasons, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should not only implement the proposed decision memorandum for Medicare beneficiaries but to explore ways in which such intensive behavioral counseling for obesity may be utilized by as many obese beneficiaries as possible. This would include a two-prong educational campaign. The first prong would be directed to the appropriate health care professionals to make them aware of the benefit and how to achieve competency in intensive behavioral counseling. The other prong would be directed at Medicare beneficiaries to make them aware of the new benefit and possibilities of successful weight management.

 

 Sincerely,

Morgan Downey,

Editor & Publisher, Downey Obesity Report

Washington, D.C.

 

Obama Administration Orders Free Gestational Diabetes Screening

August 1st, 2011 No comments »

The Obama Administration has announced, that, as part of the Affordable Care Act (the health care reform legislation), new health plans will be required to provide free counseling for gestational diabetes to womenAffordable Care Act Ensures Women Receive Preventive Services at No Additional Cost Gestational diabetes is a recognized risk for pregnant, obese women  Maternal Obesity and Risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus  and is associated with increased risk of obesity in their offspring. Intrauterine exposure to gestational diabetes, chi… [Am J Hypertens. 2009] – PubMed result

Medicare Weighs Behavioral Counseling

May 6th, 2011 No comments »

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering adding intensive behavioral counseling of adults for obesity as a Medicare benefit as recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force.  See the public comments at National Coverage Analysis (NCA) for Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity (CAG-00423N) If you scroll down to “ Jennifer Leonard” you will see the comments from the STOP Obesity Alliance.

Intensive Counseling, State Data and Incentives- What’s new

September 29th, 2010 No comments »

September 29, 2010

Look AHEAD, an NIH funded long term study of life style intervention on weight and cardiovascular risk factors has released its 4 year findings. One arm of the study received intensive lifestyle counseling; the other arm received usual dietary counseling. Averaged across the four years, body weight was reduced in the intensive group by 6.5% compared to 0 .88%, along with improvements in fitness, hemoglobin A1c, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Some of the gains decreased over time as one would expect but were still significantly better at the four year follow-up. See, Arch Intern Med — Abstract: Long-term Effects of a Lifestyle Intervention on Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Four-Year Results of the Look AHEAD Trial, September 27, 2010, The Look AHEAD Research Group 170

George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services has released new data on obesity coverage under the Medicaid program, state employee coverage and mandates for obesity coverage, as well as their new study on the personal costs due to obesity. See Health Policy | School of Public Health and Health Services | George Washington University

The American College of Physicians has released a paper, Ethical Considerations for the Use of Patient Incentives to Promote Personal Responsibility for Health: West Virginia Medicaid and Beyond. The paper addresses evolving wellness programs which involve “incentives” or “penalties,” depending on one’s point of view. The paper cautions, “”motivating behavior change is much more complex than can be accomplished with a single strategy and requires both an individual commitment to health as well as societal collaboration to eliminate barriers. The College adds that such programs “must be designed to allocate benefits equitably;  must not include penalties.”    See,       http://www.acponline.org/running_practice/ethics/issues/policy/personal_incentives.pdf

Updates

September 27th, 2010 No comments »

July 28,2010                                                                                                                      
Child exposure to food ads may be declining. A new study indicates that daily average exposure to  food ads between 2003 and 2007 fell by 13.7% among young children age 2-5 and 3.7% among 6-11 years old but increased by 3.7% among 12-17 year olds. Exposure to sweet food ads was down as were beverage ads “with a substantial decline in the most heavily advertised sugar-sweetened beverages.” Exposure to fast food ads increased. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20603457″>Trends in Exposure to Television Food Advertisemen… [Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010] – PubMed result

July 24, 2010

Analyses throw doubts on fruits and vegetables, physical activity to control obesity. A review of the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake with adult and childhood obesity casts doubt on how strong it the relationship with weight management. The review was undertaken by TA LeDoux and colleagues from the Department of Pediatrics at the USDA/Agricultural Research Service Childrens’ Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine. They found that, after reviewing 772 studies, increased food and vegetable consumption (in conjunction with other behaviors) contributed to reduced adiposity among overweight or obese adults but no association was shown among children. While the quality of the studies varied widely, the relationship between high fruit and vegetable consumption and low obesity among “was weak” and among children “unclear.” The study can be accessed at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20633234″>Relationship of fruit and vegetable intake with ad… [Obes Rev. 2010] – PubMed result

In a separate study, doctors in Plymouth, United Kingdom following 202 children for 7 to 10 years, found that overweight preceded physical inactivity, not the other way around.  As most childhood obesity interventions assume inactivity precedes obesity, this study, if validated, indicates a change in strategy to combat childhood obesity. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20573741.

July 22, 2010
The Department of Health and Human Services today announced regulations implementing provisions of the health care reform legislation signed into law in March by President Obama. The regulations strengthen the rights of consumers to appeals claims denials and recissions. In addition, an external review procedure will be available to review initial claims decisions. Many persons with obesity have had problems in getting insurance coverage of bariatric surgery and other interventions and have been frustrated with the appeals process.  Plans that pre-existed enactment of health care reform and have not changed are considered ‘grandfathered’ and are exempt from these regulations unless their plans change. See more at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/07/20100722a.html”>Administration Announces New Affordable Care Act Measures to Protect Consumers and Put Patients Back in Charge of Their Care

July 21, 2010

Because of ‘stealth’ provision, millions will see an expansion of intensive counseling for obesity. See The Daily Downey.
April 30, 2010

Gallup Survey of over 670,000 Americans finds obesity rates continue to rise. Americans Making No Progress on Obesity

April 7, 2010

Consumer Alert: FDA issues warning on “fat burning” injections using such names as mesotherapy, lipozap, lipotherapy, or injection lipolysis. Seehttp://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2010/nida-28.htmFDA Issues Warning Letters for Drugs Promoted in Fat Elimination Procedure

March 31, 2010

Orexigen Therapeutics Submits new obesity drug to FDA for approval Orexigen(R) Therapeutics Submits Contrave(R) New Drug Application to FDA for the Treatment of Obesity

March 31, 2010

Department of Health and Human Services addresses similarities between obesity and addiction. Common Mechanisms of Drug Abuse and Obesity, March 28, 2010 News Release – National Institutes of Health (NIH)

WHAT DOES HEALTH CARE REFORM MEAN FOR OBESITY?

Questions and Answers

By Morgan Downey, J.D.

March 23, 2010

With Sunday’s vote in the House of Representatives, the long-awaited health care reform legislation is on track become law. A great deal has been written about health care reform during the past year but little attention has been paid to how reform might affect the obesity epidemic.

Obesity is the most prevalent, fatal, chronic disease in the United States. 68% of American adults are overweight or obese, constituting a majority of the US population. This Q&A is not intended to cover the entire scope of the health care reform legislation but only to explain how it is likely to affect persons with obesity and the future of the obesity epidemic. (N.B. At several points, the legislation incorporates recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) meaning that these recommendations become covered services. The USPSTF has two obesity specific recommendations at level B: one for screening for obesity and the second for intensive behavioral counseling. The intensive behavioral counseling could open the door for extensive new services.)

1. What does the bill do to help the millions of Americans with obesity?

Briefly:If you have obesity, have a medical condition and have not had health insurance for six months, you will be able to purchase coverage through a temporary high risk pool. (The pool is ‘temporary’ until the health exchanges are implemented).

If you have obesity and receive Medicare or Medicaid, you will see more preventive services fully covered.

If you have obesity and employer provided health insurance several provisions may affect you.

A. If you have had claims denied because of a pre-existing condition (either obesity or an obesity-related co-morbid condition), you should have an easier time getting such claims paid starting in 2014.

B. If you have reached lifetime caps on coverage, within six months of enactment, insurers will be prohibited from placing lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage and from rescinding coverage, except in the case of fraud. Insurance companies will also be prohibited from canceling policies on people who get sick. (These are called recissions and ‘height and weigh’ is one of the four most common health reasons for a recissions according to a December 2009 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners).

C. Six months after enactment, private, qualified health plans will have to provide, without cost-sharing, preventive services with an A or B recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

D. More expensive “Cadillac” health plans will start being taxed in 2018. To the extent that these plans may provide coverage of bariatric surgery and related services, they may scale back.

2. Is it all good?

Briefly, yes and no.

If you have obesity and have employer-paid health insurance, you may be paying more – potentially a lot more-for it. While the new law will ban discrimination on the basis of health status, an exception exists whereby persons in an employee wellness program can be charged up to 50% of the value of their health insurance premium if they do not meet specific health criteria, such as weight. Intensive behavioral counseling for obesity will become more available. Whether insurers will have to provide bariatric surgery or drugs for treating obesity will be decided by a Health Benefits Advisory Board which will make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Third, the tax deduction for medical expenses will change. Currently, individuals can deduct unreimbursed medical expenses (including physician recommended weight loss costs) to the extent they exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income. The threshold will rise to 10%. This potentially hurts individuals with multiple chronic conditions and/or high, unreimbursed medical costs.

3. Does Medicare coverage of obesity change?

Medicare beneficiaries would receive a comprehensive health risk assessment and a personalized prevention plan. Incentives would be provided to Medicare beneficiaries to compete behavioral modification programs.Medicare’s current coverage of bariatric surgery does not change.The ban for drugs to treat obesity under Part D continues in effect.

4. What about coverage of obesity in Medicaid?

Current state-by-state coverage in Medicaid for bariatric surgery and drugs to treat obesity should not change. (Medicaid may cover drugs for obesity if the state applies for a waiver from a prohibition in the Medicaid statute.)

The Medicaid program will go through its largest expansion since its inception. If cost-sharing is removed for covered recommendations of the US Preventive Services Task Force (see above), state Medicaid programs will have their federal matching rates increased. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also instructed to develop preventive and obesity-related services for Medicaid enrollees, including obesity screening and counseling for children and adults. Each state is directed to develop a public awareness campaign to educate Medicaid enrollees regarding the “availability and coverage of such services with the goal of reducing incidences of obesity.”

HHS will develop incentives to encourage behavioral change in Medicaid enrollees. A new state option will be developed for Medicaid, allowing enrollees with multiple chronic conditions to select a medical home.

5. What does the law do about childhood obesity?

While often overlooked, the expanding coverage includes providing health insurance to millions of children whose parents do not have coverage now. For the increasing numbers of children and adolescents with obesity, their related conditions, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension, will now be covered. Starting in 6 months, children cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. In addition to the coverage components, the law provides funding for a childhood obesity demonstration project.

6. What about prevention of obesity?

The bill establishes a National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council to coordinate federal prevention, wellness and public health activities and develop a national strategy to improve the nation’s health. The strategy is due one year after the enactment. A Prevention and Wellness Trust is authorized to carry out the national strategy. A grant program is developed for 5 years to support the delivery of evidence-based and community based prevention and wellness service aimed at reducing chronic disease rates.

Under Section 4201, the Secretary of HHS shall develop a competitive grant program for states and local governments for “the implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based community preventive health activities in order to reduce chronic disease rates, prevent the development of secondary conditions and address health disparities.”

i. This includes creating healthier school environments, including increasing healthy food options, physical activity opportunities, promotion of health lifestyle, emotional wellness, and prevention curricula.”

ii. Also included are “developing and promoting programs targeting a variety of age levels to increase access to nutrition, physical activity;”

iii. “assessing and implementing worksite wellness programming and incentives; working to highlight healthy options at restaurants and other food venues.

iv. Grantees must report changes in weight, nutrition, physical activity.

b. Section 4202(a) provides a health aging program. Grants are to be provided to states and local governments for the 55 to 64 year old population “to improve nutrition, increase physical activity.” Covered are screenings to identify those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.” Those identified with such risk factors are to be referred to clinical services.

c. Section 4202(b) provides for an evaluation and plan for community-based prevention and wellness programs for Medicare beneficiaries to reduce their risk of disease, disability and injury by making healthy lifestyle choices, including exercise, diet and self-management of chronic diseases.

7. Does the law affect research on obesity?

a. The bill establishes a non-profit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to identify research priorities and conduct research which compares the clinical effectiveness of medical treatments. This is effective on enactment.

b. Section 4301 provides for research on optimizing the delivery of public health services.

c. Section 399MM1 provides for studies of worksite health policies and programs. No part of such recommendations, data or assessments can be used to mandate requirements for workplace wellness programs.

d. Section 4402 also provides for effectiveness research of health and wellness programs for federal employees.

e. Under the reconciliation changes passed by the House of Representatives and on its way for approval by the Senate, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will identify the most cost-intensive services for Medicare which shall ‘inform’ research priorities within the Department of Health and Human Service to improve prevention, treatment or cure of such diseases and conditions.

8. What are the other parts of the bill affect obesity?

The Secretary of HHS is mandated to develop, within one month of passage, an education and outreach campaign regarding preventive health services. The campaign must address proper nutrition, regular exercise and obesity reduction. It is mandated that the Secretary develop a website for health care providers and consumers to provide science-based information on guidelines for nutrition, exercise, obesity reduction and specific chronic disease prevention. Another website is to be developed with a “personalized prevention plan tool. This would include determining individual disease risk, based in part on Body Mass Index.

a. Of particular value for persons with morbid obesity, Section 4203 provides for the removal of barriers to medical devices for individuals with disabilities. Under this provision, standards will be developed to ensure that medical diagnostic equipment used in physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals and other medical settings to ensure that the equipment is accessible to and usable by individuals with accessibility needs to allow independent entry to and use of such equipment.

b. Restaurants which are part of a chain of 20 or more locations doing business under the same name must disclose for ‘standard menu items’ the nutrient content including calories in the item with the suggested daily caloric intake on the menu as well as a drive-through menu board. Self-service items must also display the calorie information. Restaurants and others, such as vending machine operators, may voluntary register to be part of the program. Regulations must be issued within a year of enactment.

c. In some studies, breast-feeding has been found to be preventive for the development of obesity in the child. For breast-feeding women, employers with over 50 employees must a reasonable break time to express breast milk for one year after the child’s birth, each time the employee has a need to express the milk and a place, other than a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from intrusion. Employers need not provide compensation for such time.

d. The Secretary of Labor is authorized to set up a grant program for employer wellness programs. Behavioral change is encouraged which provides for altering employee healthy lifestyles through counseling, seminars, on-line programs or self-help materials. Obesity is specifically listed as a focus. Participation cannot be mandated or conditioned on obtaining a health insurance premium discount, rebate or other financial reward.

9. What is not in the bill?

A proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is not in the legislation.

10. What next?

The bill is large and complex. Many issues, especially regarding inclusion of surgery and drugs in health benefit plans, be have to be resolved by regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, while the USPSTF recommendation for intensive behavioral counseling does not include frequency, intensity and duration. These will need to be specified.

March 20, 2010

Employers are increasingly using punitive measures against employees’ health status according to annual Hewitt Associates annual survey of 600 U.S. companies. Over half of employers plan to monitor employee behavioral changes or behavioral modification. http://www.hewittassociates.com/Intl/NA/en-US/AboutHewitt/Newsroom/PressReleaseDetail.aspx?cid=8219″>Hewitt Survey Shows Employers Continuing to Invest in Health of Workers Despite Uncertainty of Future Health Care Landscape – Hewitt Associates – Human Resources Consulting and Outsourcing – About Hewitt – Newsroom

March 19, 2010

Extreme Obesity increases in children

A new study from Kaiser Permanente finds alarming increases in extreme obesity in children. Using electronic medical records of 710,949 patients ages 2 to 19 enrolled in Kaiser health programs in Southern California, researchers found about 6.4% of children have extreme obesity. (The researchers used a relatively new definition of extreme obesity from the Centers for Disease Control of 120% of the 95 percentile of weight for age). 7.3% of boys and 5.5% of girls were described as have extreme obesity. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-18/extreme-obesity-found-in-6-4-of-children-kaiser-study-finds.html”>Extreme Obesity Found in 6.4% of Children, Kaiser Study Finds – BusinessWeek

Does increasing physically activity in kids prevent obesity in adults?

Many campaigns for the prevention of obesity in children, including efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama,  stress physical activity under the belief that patterns of physical activity will continue through life and will avoid obesity. It may not be that easy. A study out of Canada followed 374 participants age 7 to 18 years of age for 22 years. They found that only 18% of the most physically active children remained physically active in later life. In contrast 38% of the heaviest children, by BMI, continued to have a high BMI as adults. 83% of overweight youth remained overweight as adults while 85% of adults were not overweight as children. Almost all healthy weight adults had been healthy weight as children. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19922043″>Tracking of obesity and physical activity from chi… [Int J Pediatr Obes. 2009] – PubMed result. Earlier studies found that physical activity in adolescence may track into adulthood for women but not for men. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16672846″>Risk of obesity in relation to physical activity t… [Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006] – PubMed result.

March 18, 2010

The STOP Obesity Alliance conducted a press conference on March 16, 2010, releasing a survey of physicians and patients on primary care for patients with obesity as well as a white paper on the topic. See, http://www.stopobesityalliance.org/newsroom/press-releases/”>http://www.stopobesityalliance.org/newsroom/press-releases/</a> and,

http://www.stopobesityalliance.org/wp-content/assets/2010/03/STOP-Obesity-Alliance-Primary-Care-Paper-FINAL.pdf

http://www.stopobesityalliance.org/wp-content/assets/2010/03/STOP-Obesity-Alliance-Primary-Care-Paper-FINAL.pdf

Coverage included:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2010-03-16-docsfightfat16_ST_N.htm”>http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2010-03-16-docsfightfat16_ST_N.htm

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/doctors-and-patients-not-talking-about-weight.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup/2010/03/you_get_weighed_at_the_doctors.html”>The Checkup – You get weighed at the doctor’s office. Then what?

Physician interactions with patients who are obese is a hot topic. Other recent stories include,

http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/11/23/prsa1123.htm”>amednews: Obese patients say some doctors disrespectful :: Nov. 23, 2009 … American Medical News

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/health/16essa.html?scp=5&amp;sq=obesity&amp;st=cse”>Essay – For Obese People, Prejudice in Plain Sight – NYTimes.com

March 7, 2010

Social pressure keeps weight of Japanese women low…but not for men and children. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/04/AR2010030401436.html”>Big in Japan? Fat chance for nation’s young women, obsessed with being skinny – washingtonpost.com. Meanwhile, stress of White House bringing poor habits and excess weight to Obama advisor.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/us/politics/07axelrod.html?adxnnl=1&amp;hpw=&amp;adxnnlx=1267980789-auEREV8zyhS1D+W8ygEvBg”>David Axelrod, Obama’s Message Maven, Finds Fingers Pointing at Him – NYTimes.com

March 3, 2010

New study shows presence of multiple inflammation markers in  obese children as young as 3 years old. Inflammation is considered to cause long term damage to the heart. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20194272?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=1″>Multiple Markers of Inflammation and Weight Status… [Pediatrics. 2010] – PubMed result

March 2, 2010

Childhood obesity continuing to increase http://www.usnews.com/health/family-health/childrens-health/articles/2010/03/02/child-obesity-rates-going-up.html”>Child Obesity Rates Going Up – US News and World Report  as children are seen as constantly eating. ttp://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6210HC20100302″>Snacks mean U.S. kids moving toward constant eating | Reuters Article exposes fallacy of addressing obesity by making “little changes.” http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/in-obesity-epidemic-whats-one-cookie”>In Obesity Epidemic, What’s One Cookie? – Well Blog – NYTimes.com. In the meantime, President Obama’s liking of burgers and smokes shows he’s a ‘regular guy.’ http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/category/the-44th-president”>THE 44TH PRESIDENT – The Caucus Blog – NYTimes.com

Survey provides reinforcement that most Americans think they are healthy…it’s the other guy who isn’t living a healthy lifestyle. http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/most-americans-think-s-others-who-are-unhealthy.html?par=ivillage%3Ayth%3Aoutbrain”>Most Americans Think It’s Others Who Are Unhealthy – iVillage Your Total Health

The most recent study on mortality and obesity was published in February 2010 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19680230?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=4″>Individual and aggregate years-of-life-lost associ… [Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010] – PubMed result. The research by Eric Finkelstein et al found that overweight and low level obesity were not associated with a reduction in life expectancy. However, higher BMI levels are associated with reduced life expectancy. Overall, excess body weight is associated with 95 million Years of Life Lost (YLL). White females account for more than 2/3 of this amount. The authors predict that, unless the rising prevalence of those with BMIs over 35 is reduced, or improvements in medical care are made, overall life expectancy in the US will decrease. The article notes that the mortality rate for obesity might be higher if not for improved medical treatments. They note that 10 of the 25 most prescribed medications are for obesity related conditions.

February 28, 2010

USA Today story describes middle age weight losers hitting a brick wall. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2010-03-01-WLCstubbornweightloss01_CV_N.htm”>Middle-aged dieters hit a brick wall after 10 pounds or so – USATODAY.com

February 26, 2010

Institute of Medicine announces program to examine front-of-package nutrition labeling requirements. http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/NutritionSymbols.aspx”>Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols – Institute of Medicine

(Footnote:  About time! I raised the proposal for putting calorie information on the front of packaged foods in 2003. <ahttp://www.scribd.com/doc/1370463/US-Food-and-Drug-Administration-03n0338tr00002″>US Food and Drug Administration: 03n-0338-tr00002

February 25, 2010

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces plan to combat obesity in California. http://californianewswire.com/2010/02/25/CNW6898_173852.php”>Ca. Gov. Schwarzenegger Announces Actions to Fight Obesity, Promote Healthy Living : Thu, 25 Feb 2010 : California Newswire™

February 23, 2010

President Obama’s health care proposal includes obesity

President Obama’s health care proposal, announced on before the ‘health care summit’ contains funding for state and local governments to develop strategies for chronic diseases “including those associated with obesity and tobacco use.” The proposal also promises “unprecedented investments in disease research and prevention” while at the same time requiring posting of calorie information in restaurants and in vending machines.

States and health care providers would receive evidence-based recommendations on preventive and “obesity-related” services for Americans on Medicaid. States will be encouraged to develop innovative childhood obesity preventive programs. Small businesses will be allowed to compete for grants to develop wellness programs through the CDC. For Medicare beneficiaries, annual wellness visits will be fully covered as well as personalized prevention plans. Co-payments for preventive care will be waived. http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting/proposal/titleiv/communities”>Title IV. Prevention of Chronic Disease and Improving Public Health | The White House

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the Administration bill does include the Safeway provision which could penalize employees who do not meet certain health standards, including weight. http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/housesenatebill_final.pdf”>http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/housesenatebill_final.pdf. The bill does not specify minimum benefit packages. There is no mention of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

February 21, 2010

New study by Kenneth Thorpe and Lynda Ogden in Health Affairs finds rising Medicare costs from chronic diseases, many related to obesity – hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, mental disorders and asthma. Spending has also shifted from inpatient hospital care to outpatient visits and drugs. Most all Medicare patients utilize these services http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/hlthaff.2009.0474v1″>Chronic Conditions Account For Rise In Medicare Spending From 1987 To 2006 — Thorpe et al., 10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0474 — Health Affairs

February 20, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative (see http://letsmove.gov/”>Let’s Move)  produces attack from Glenn Beck   http://mediamatters.org/blog/201002120036″>Beck attacks Michelle Obama for trying to raise awareness of and combat childhood obesity | Media Matters for America  and defense from Mike Huckabee http://mediamatters.org/blog/201002190060″>Huckabee warns that “conservatives are going to” attack Michelle Obama’s obesity initiative — but Glenn Beck already has | Media Matters for America, See preview of Huckabee’s interview with Michelle Obama <a href=”http://www.foxnews.com/huckabee”>Huckabee – FOXNews.com

February 19, 2010

Harvard researchers wanted to look at childhood chronic health conditions over time to see what fluctuations, if any, took place. Chronic conditions were grouped into 4 categories: obesity, asthma, other physical conditions and behavior/learning problems. Three cohorts of children were examined: those born in 1988, 1994 and 2000. Rates of maternal obesity increased in each cohort. The prevalence of any chronic condition increased with each cohort. The study found remission in several chronic conditions, except for obesity which increased substantially over time. Associations were found between maternal obesity and any chronic condition and with minority race.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20159870?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=1″>Dynamics of obesity and chronic health conditions … [JAMA. 2010] – PubMed result

Researchers are increasingly looking at early life factors. A study of 1,100 children found that being female, having diabetes exposure in utero, larger size for gestational age, shorter breastfeeding duration and rapid infant weight gain predicted higher childhood BMI. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19940472?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=3″>Early-Life Predictors of Higher Body Mass Index in… [Ann Nutr Metab. 2010] – PubMed result

February 16, 2010

The folks at the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture have come out with the Food Atlas, a comprehensive map down to the county level from fast food outlets to taxes. Check it out at <a href=”http://ers.usda.gov/foodatlas”>Food Environment Atlas. Thanks to a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the University of Wisconsin  has issued county health maps comparing the health in counties with others in the state. All counties in the United States are included, except for the District of Columbia which is left out. Cost is also left out as a factor in health care access. <a href=”http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/”>County Health Rankings

February 16, 2010

The debate over bariatric surgery for adolescents heats up http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/weight-loss-surgery-for-teens”>Weight Loss Surgery for Teens – Well Blog – NYTimes.com. Fueled by part by new study from Australia http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20145228?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=2″>Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding in severel… [JAMA. 2010] – PubMed result

February 13, 2010

The Tipping Point for Childhood Obesity may be as young as 3 months to 2 years of age. In a new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, researchers conducted a retrospective chart review of 184 children between 2 and 20. More than half the children became overweight before age 2 and all patients were obese or overweight by age 10. The authors note that food preferences are also set at an early age, probably by age 2. The rate of gain was approximately 1 excess BMI unit per year. The study indicates that the critical period for preventing childhood obesity is during the first 2 years and for many it may as little as 3 months of age. The study looked at two different socioeconomic groups and found the same pattern. Pediatricians were urged to take BMIs earlier and look for ‘small’ changes which can lead to obesity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20150210?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=2″>Identifying the “Tipping Point” Age for Overweight… [Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2010] – PubMed result

Some positive news comes in another study showing that pre-school children exposed to 3 routines: regular evening family meals, adequate sleep and limited screen viewing had approximately 40% lower prevalence of obesity compared to those exposed to none of these routines.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20142280?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=12″>Household Routines and Obesity in US Preschool-Age… [Pediatrics. 2010] – PubMed result

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of weight loss interventions for children under 5 leave a lot to be desired. See two reviews: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com.proxygw.wrlc.org/journal/123276888/abstract?CRETRY=1&amp;SRETRY=0″>Systematic review of the effectiveness of weight management schemes for the under fives. M. Bond. 2010; Obesity Reviews – Wiley InterScience, and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.proxygw.wrlc.org/pubmed/20107458?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=13″>Interventions to prevent obesity in 0-5 year olds:… [Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010] – PubMed result

In addition, pediatricians may lose interest in weight management over time. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.proxygw.wrlc.org/pubmed/20080520?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=1″>Applying practice recommendations for the preventi… [Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2010] – PubMed result

February 11, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama launches national childhood obesity initiative http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/first-lady-michelle-obama-launches-lets-move-americas-move-raise-a-healthier-genera”>First Lady Michelle Obama Launches Let’s Move: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids | The White House after President Obama signs Executive Memorandum calling for a plan on childhood obesity in 90 days. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-establishing-a-task-force-childhood-obesity”>Presidential Memorandum — Establishing a Task Force on Childhood Obesity | The White House

February 4, 2010

Study finds workers with obesity pay for health insurance through lower wages

A new study has confirmed that obese employees with employer-provided health insurance are paid less that their peers because of higher health care costs. Stanford University researchers analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Longitudinal Survey of Your and the Medical Expenditure Panel survey. They found that, on average, obese employees with health insurance were paid $1.42 an hour less that non-obese workers. Women had a higher wage penalty than men. Women with obesity whose employers provided health insurance paid a wage penalty of $2.64. The article is  “The incidence of the healthcare costs of obesity,” by Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D., and M. Kate Bundorf, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., in the 2009 <em>Journal of Health Economics</em> 28, pp. 649-658.

February 3, 2010

A new study from Europe indicates that a significant portion of persons with morbid obesity (Body Mass Index greater than 40)  are missing a section of their DNA. The authors from the Imperial College London and ten other European centers indicate that the missing DNA may have a dramatic effect on some people’s weight. Approximately seven in every thousand people with morbid obesity are missing some 30 genes. See Science Daily report at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100203131401.htm”>Some morbidly obese people are missing genes, shows new research. Abstract at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7281/full/nature08727.html”>Access : A new highly penetrant form of obesity due to deletions on chromosome 16p11.2 : Nature
January 29, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Surgeon General Release National Call to Action on Obesity http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/obesityvision/obesityvision2010.pdf”

http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/obesityvision/obesityvision2010.pdf.

Most of the document is similar to other DHHS statements on  obesity but there is one new aspect. The report draws special attention to the role of obesity in mental illness and calls on the medical community to promote awareness about the connection between mental and addiction disorders and obesity (See the Research Section) and to consider weight neutral medications for persons with severe mental illness.

January 27, 2010

New research indicates physicians can be effective in achieving weight loss in persons with severe obesity.

A study out of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA, indicates that, with training, primary care providers can achieve weight loss and reduction in metabolic factors with medical intervention alone. Among those who completed the study, 31% in the intensive medical intervention group achieved a weight loss of 5% or more and 7% achieved a 20% or more weight loss compared to 9% and 1% in the usual treatment group. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20101009?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=11″>

Nonsurgical weight loss for extreme obesity in pri… [Arch Intern Med. 2010] – PubMed result. The results come none too soon. A study from Ireland of 700 individuals with obesity over a BMI of 30, found the highest BMIs occurred among those who reported onset of overweight before age 15. The BMI group over 50 was notably younger and had higher metabolic problems. They also had lower rates of marriage and higher unemployment. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20100391?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=19″>BMI = 50 kg/m2 is associated with a younger age … [Public Health Nutr. 2010] – PubMed result

January 25, 2010

Fetal anomalies in children of mothers with obesity may be more due to diabetes than weight alone. High BMIs may be a surrogate for pregestational diabetes. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.proxygw.wrlc.org/pubmed/20093901?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=13″>Fetal anomalies in obese women: the contribution o… [Obstet Gynecol. 2010] – PubMed result

UPDATED  CONSUMER SAFETY ALERT

January 23, 2010

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a consumer warning about counterfeit versions of Alli™ being sold over the Internet. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm198519.htm”>UPDATED Public Health Alert: Counterfeit Alli containing sibutramine

Obesity by any measure found to increase risk of ischemic stroke http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.proxygw.wrlc.org/pubmed/20093637?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&amp;ordinalpos=1″>Race– and Sex-Specific Associations of Obesity Mea… [Stroke. 2010] – PubMed result

SAFETY ALERT:   FDA Issues Warning on Meridia.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has notified health care professionals of increased risk of heart attack and stroke for patients taking sibutramine, marked as Meridia by Abbott Labs. The FDA found increased risk in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, stroke or transient ischemic attack, heart arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease or uncontrolled hypertension. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm198221.htm”>Meridia (sibutramine hydrochloride): Follow-Up to an Early Communication about an Ongoing Safety Review</a> European authorities have taken the drug, called Reductil in Europe,  off the market  citing the high prevalence of heart problems in persons with obesity many of which may be undiagnosed. <a href=”http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245176/Obesity-drug-used-86-000-patients-suspended-heart-attack-fears.html”>Obesity drug used by 86,000 patients is suspended over heart attack fears | Mail Online<

Intervene earlier and more aggressively:  New recommendations for screening and intensive counseling for youths 6-18  get impetus from finding high lipid levels in adolescents. Almost back-to-back two government agencies have reinforced the need for earlier, more aggressive intervention in children and adolescents with obesity. The United States Preventive Services Task Force has updated its recommendation that clinicians screen children and adolescents between 6  and 18 years of age for obesity and refer those at risk to programs designed   to improve their weight status by utilizing three components:  counseling for weight loss or a healthy diet, for physical activity, and  behavioral management techniques such as goal setting and self monitoring. Moderate- to high-intensity programs involve more than 25 hours of contact with the child and/or the family over a 6-month period. Combining counseling with either sibutramine or orlistat was found to result in modest improvements for children age 12 and over.  http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspschobes.htm”>Screening for Obesity in Children and Adolescents. The recommendations and evidence statement are available at the journal Pediatrics web site, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2009-1955v1?maxtoshow=&amp;HITS=10&amp;hits=10&amp;RESULTFORMAT=&amp;fulltext=obesity&amp;searchid=1&amp;FIRSTINDEX=0&amp;sortspec=date&amp;resourcetype=HWCIT”>Effectiveness of Weight Management Interventions in Children: A Targeted Systematic Review for the USPSTF — Whitlock et al., 10.1542/peds.2009-1955 — Pediatrics

On January 22, 2010 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 20.3% of adolescents aged 12-19 had abnormal lipid levels, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Youths were overweight or obese had higher lipid rates than those with normal weight. Based solely on BMI, 32% of all youths should be candidates for lipid screening. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_wk.html”>MMWR – MMWR Weekly http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2009-10-06-doctors-obesity_N.htm” target=”_blank”>Physicians Getting Active on Obesity

Did you know 3,693 Americans become obese everyday? Check <a href=”http://www.downeyobesityreport.com/2009/09/fact-sheet-2-quick-facts/”>Quick Facts

Has America Reached its Tipping Point on Obesity?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IdtZ-GfFo8http://www.downeyobesityreport.com/wp-content/uploads//downey_youtube.jpg

The two most recent surgeons general, Dr. David Satcher, left, and Richard H. Carmona, center, join Morgan Downey, right, at the STOP Obesity Alliance panel discussion at the Newseum in September. The recommendations of the group will provide policymakers guidelines in dealing with obesity in forthcoming reform bills. http://www.stopobesityalliance.org/events/past-events/has-america-reached-its-tipping-point-on-obesity/STOP Obesity Alliance