Tuesday, April 21, 2009

United Airlines, Obesity and Prevention

Reimbursing doctors to engage patients in obesity prevention is a better approach to tackling the epidemic than United Airline's recent decision to charge higher fares to obese passengers, a leading cardiologist said in today's Huffington Post.

"...changing our health-care system and weaning ourselves off of fast food are clearly going to take some time," says Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of The South Beach Diet. "In the meantime, we need to support, not discriminate against, the obese in this country and we need to urge our government to provide the incentives to stop this health crisis in its tracks."

"Until incentives for prevention can be built into our health-care system, until doctors can afford the time they'd like to spend with patients, the problem of obesity and so many other chronic diseases will continue to persist in this country," he says.

Agatston says the nation's insurance system "currently pays more for doctors to perform procedures than to listen to and educate patients.

"Today primary-care doctors often find themselves having trouble meeting overhead and so they try to see more people in less time, leaving the patients feeling rushed and neglected. Doctors have little time to practice preventive medicine--to teach obese patients, for example, about the value of a proper diet and exercise program or to get to the root cause of a person's weight problem. This simply can't be done in a typical 10-minute doctor visit."


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