While COVID-19 has been front and center of healthcare 2020, the problem of obesity is growing quietly in the background. Physicians are seeing patients who are reporting weight gain during the pandemic. Stress eating, boredom, finding healthy food, and sedentary lifestyles are all reasons for this growing problem.

Not only is weight gain itself a problem, but obesity places a patient at a higher risk of poor outcomes in relation to COVID-19. The CDC reports that obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization from a COVID-19 infection. Obesity is typically associated with impaired immune function as well as decreased lung capacity making ventilation more difficult. Studies have also shown that vaccine response is reduced in obesity, a case that is yet to be determined with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination.

The problem of dealing with obesity is well known to physicians. Warnings of dire health consequences are seldom enough to motivate patients to enact lifestyle changes. Many patients suffer comorbidities including diabetes Type II and heart disease that furthermore jeopardize their health and wellbeing.

In a recent article from Medical Economics, the key suggestion is to start a conversation with a patient about their weight. Surprisingly, many patients have never had a conversation about their weight prompted by their doctor. There is a common belief that a patient being overweight or obese is their own fault. Prefacing conversational intent with this belief is not helpful to the patient.

There is no easy fix to obesity and COVID-19 provides the perfect reason to start a weight-loss conversation. These conversations should avoid judgment and encourage the patient on a long-term weight loss journey.

Physicians and their team should work with the patient on a frequent and long-term basis. Let them know that struggles will happen along the way. Medications and technology can help with long-term counseling and encouragement as the key to increasing a patient’s chance of success.

Adding a strong weight loss solution to your practice does not need to be difficult or expensive. Medical Weight Loss solutions exist that combine education for the provider and patient as well as technology, counseling tools and marketing to position you and your practice as a medical practice that takes weight loss seriously and supportively.

Weight loss, when implemented successfully can transform a practice. Not only for the patients but for the provider in terms of revenue and job satisfaction.

If you would like to learn more about adding a weight loss solution to your practice contact your Practice Development Manager to find out more.