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Medicare's Anti-obesity Initiative

Posted on 12/7/2011

I recently read in USA Today about how Medicare's anti-obesity initiative is creating doubt about its effectiveness. I can see why and I'm glad it's coming under fire. Counseling does not work...I repeat, counseling does not work. I have known this for years and years. I personally do not believe, as a registered nurse and healthy eating advocate, the current method of counseling obese patients' works. Look at our obesity numbers in this country and the results are obvious...counseling does not work!

What we need is for insurance companies to take the lead on this and begin to pay for programs like Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating, since we help people learn new eating habits and show them proper portions and the right mix of foods they should eat for overall good health. Obese people do see results on our program and often shed the obese label in the process, if they stick to the meal plan, along with reducing medications. Perhaps then and only then will Medicare wake up and see the results and change their obesity treatment program.

The biggest concern with counseling is that those who are providing weight loss counseling have little to no experience to do so. How can you help people lose weight if you have no practical experience with weight loss? According to a recent survey of primary care physicians, 78% said they have no prior training in weight loss or weight related issues. And, of those 72% said no one in their offices had weight-loss training.

Astonishing to me is the fact that regardless of expertise, Medicare feels it is an effective method to help those who need to lose weight. Forgive me, but isn't this a case of "the blind leading the blind"? How can one effectively help those who need it if they do not know the subject matter?

Most doctors do not have training in such areas of medicine. Perhaps due to our obesity epidemic we should also re-examine our educational system and look at nutrition education on all levels, including in medical schools. Not just one day of nutrition either, I mean an entire semester or more. And, make it mandatory for graduation at every level from elementary to college and beyond. I strongly believe teachers need education in this area too.

If we were more educated about nutrition we would understand what proper nutrition is and how important it is in overall health. People need to know how portions impact their weight and how effective they are as a weight management tool. They also need to understand what is healthy and what is unhealthy to put in their bodies.

I have helped hundreds of thousands of people improve their eating habits in the last 26 years since starting Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating, and in the process they have learned about portion control. I have read their letters that attest such findings.
Why Medicare won't look at programs like ours to help the 30% of people on Medicare who are obese is beyond me. I guess they'd rather throw taxpayers money away on unproven methods that do not work. With more and more people becoming eligible for Medicare every day in this country with the Baby Boomers aging, I think Medicare needs to look beyond counseling and at programs like ours that can truly help people improve their health.

To read the USA Today article and comments about it:http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/healthcare/story/2011-11-30/Medicare-anti-obesity-initiative-triggers-treatment-debate/51513348/1#uslPageReturn 


Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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