Next time you go for a checkup, don't be surprised if your doctor gets on your case about your weight. The medical profession has issued new guidelines for fighting the nation's obesity epidemic, and they urge physicians to be a lot more aggressive about helping patients drop those extra pounds. Doctors should calculate your body mass index, a weight-to-height ratio. And if you need to lose weight, they should come up with a plan and send you for counseling.
"We recognize that telling patients to lose weight is not enough," said Dr. Donna Ryan, co-chair of the guidelines committee. The good news? By next year, most insurance companies are expected to cover counseling and other obesity treatments, following in the steps of the Medicare program, which began paying for one-on-one help last year. The guidelines were released this week by a group of medical organizations that include the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Obesity Society. (Other new guidelines call for sweeping changes in high-cholesterol treatment.)