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Obesity Experts To Docs: Start 'Prescribing' Exercise

Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2004

Studies have found patients are more likely to follow a doctor's order to exercise if it's written in a prescription, said Dr. Philip Greenland, director of Northwestern Memorial Hospital's preventive medicine department and report co-author.

"This is not just general medical advice," Greenland said. "It's medical therapy.''

The report was published in Archives of Internal Medicine, read by 105,000 subscribers.

Doctors also should write nutrition "prescriptions," containing advice such as avoiding supersizing, splitting entrees at restaurants, limiting fats and eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Two of every three adults are overweight, putting them at increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers. Yet obesity and inactivity haven't received the same attention as smoking, which takes a similar health toll, researchers wrote.

Studies have found fewer than half of obese patients are advised by their doctors to lose weight, and only one-third are told to exercise.

The report suggested doctors measure patients' weight and height to determine if they are obese. Greenland said he often sees obese patients who don't think they have a weight problem "because everybody they see is as overweight as they are."

Ideally, people should do 60 minutes per day of moderate or vigorous exercise. But just 30 minutes of moderate activity a day can be a big help.

The report did not address low-carb diets. Greenland tells patients Atkins and similar diets are great if the patient loses weight, but can raise cholesterol and triglycerides if the patient isn't losing weight.


*Buy pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps per day (about four miles).
*Park in the far corner of the lot and walk to the door.
*On public transportation, get off a stop early and walk.
*Walk on lunch break.
*Exercise with friends.
*Consider strength training for 20 minutes two or three times a week.
*Display this prescription. 

Source: Diabetes In

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