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New obesity treatment guideline released

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A new guideline for obesity treatment, released last week by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, provides a solid road map for doctors challenged with helping overweight patients achieve a healthier weight.

Insurance coverage for weight-related counseling, such as helping patients plan new menus with fewer calories or outline a realistic fitness program, could improve under this new recommendation. More importantly, the panel of physicians and weight researchers outlined which interventions are the most effective based on clinical trials.

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Doctors should treat patients who are obese — a BMI of 30 or above (180 pounds or more for a 5-foot-5 person — as well as those who are overweight with a BMI between 25 to 30 (150 to 180 pounds for a 5-foot-5 person) if they have certain heart disease risk factors such as type 2 diabetes, the guideline states. People at a healthy weight, or who are overweight without any health problems, should keep their weight steady.

“It’s not just about body weight, but whether excess body weight is associated with medical conditions,” said Dr. Timothy Church, director of preventive medicine research at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, who was not involved in writing the guideline.

Doctors can offer drugs or bariatric surgery to help reverse obesity, but they should first try providing patients with intensive counseling to help them exercise and eat right.

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