The way general practitioners address obesity in patients has been heavily discussed at the last National Obesity Forum in Sydney this year. Although the Department of Health doesn’t directly classify it as a chronic disease, obesity ticks all the boxes to be treated under a GP management plan for a chronic disease : it affects most patients for more than six months, it can lead to disabilities and even death, it impacts the patient’s life and the community.
While obesity is diagnosed for a BMI of 30 or more, not all patients with high BMIs are unhealthy, but we can easily appreciate these are rare cases. Obesity can be one of the causes or can be directly associated with risks of type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, cardiac problems, osteoarthritis and other major health concerns.
Obesity management plan under medical supervision
WHEN STRUGGLING WITH BEING OVERWEIGHT, A GP WILL FIRST ADDRESS YOUR LIFESTYLE, ESPECIALLY DIET AND EXERCISE.
This is the first line where changes can be made, even though it can be difficult to change habits or develop new ones. Balanced and healthy meals and an exercise routine will be most effective long term if you enjoy them. Those are the weight management plans that work best, so consider being honest and communicating with your GP what you like, don’t like or aren’t comfortable with. This way, the GP’s approach will be tailored keeping both medical recommendations and personal preferences in mind.
MEDICATION IS AN OPTION YOUR GP WILL DISCUSS IF A LIFESTYLE CHANGE ON ITS OWN ISN’T ENOUGH.
The TGA approved medication for weight loss will be prescribed by your GP after discussing you medical history and other medication to avoid contraindications or side effects. What is most important to understand is that weight loss expectations should be realistic and achievable, as many people think weight loss pills should make them slim and fit overnight. The danger with medication is that, after you end taking it, you can gain weight again if the lifestyle isn’t adjusted to the healthy diet and exercise routines we were mentioning.
Although bariatric surgery is recommended in people with a BMI of 40 or over, the high costs (even with medical insurance coverage) and going through surgery stop many people from taking this route. The surgery is very effective, but a healthy lifestyle and special care are still required to keep obesity in check.