8 Reasons Why You Should Have an Obesity Screening Today

Temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and now BMI? It may not be the standard fifth vital sign yet, but you owe it to yourself and your family to ask your doctor to do the simple calculation. Don’t underestimate the power of an obesity screening. We could think of 100 reasons why you should be screened for obesity, but here are the eight that stand out the most.

1) Looks can be deceiving. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Skinny? Fat? Average? Here is the problem with these answers: They are based on personal perception. As Americans become increasingly overweight and obese, our perception shifts. Overweight may be perceived as new normal, obese as the new overweight, and so on. The only way to get an accurate analysis of your health is to be screened by a licensed physician, especially a doctor trained in obesity and weight management.

2) Science says you should. Studies have found that behavioral interventions can lead to an average weight loss of about 9 to 15 pounds in obese patients. And in a clinical study published in the American Journal of Medicine in June of 2012, the CMWL program helped patients safely lose on average 21 pounds in 12 weeks.* But you won’t be able to reap the benefits of weight loss if you don’t have an obesity screening first.

3)Obesity is a recognized national epidemic. Almost 40 percent of American adults are considered obese. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force now recommends all adults ages 18 and older be screened for obesity. Medicare and other private insurers now offer coverage for obesity counseling. It’s an issue that policymakers are taking seriously for the safety, security, and strength of the country. And you should too.

4)It can save your life. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s right, it’s preventable, so take the steps necessary to prevent it. Stop placing the entire blame on your genes; you are in complete control of the weight management choices you make. You do have say in how long and how happy your life can be. All it takes is a five-minute obesity screening.

5)Knowledge is power. If you don’t know there’s a problem, how can you fix it? We’ve been blind for too long. More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and obesity is no different from any other health condition. If you had strep throat, you wouldn’t just wait it out, and hope it heals itself. You know better than that. You need to see a doctor and get antibiotics, or your condition will just get worse. Similarly, if you are overweight or obese, you need to see a doctor and set up a plan to improve your health or your condition will likely never meaningfully improve.

6)Your heart will thank you. Even just shedding a few pounds can help your heart. When you are a healthy weight your body circulates blood more effectively and you reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes, according to the American Heart Association. Having your doctor calculate your BMI can shed light on these underlying health problems.

7)It’s painless. It’s not like going to the dentist—no drilling involved. It’s not like a strep test—no stick being shoved down your throat. It’s not even like getting your cholesterol tested—finger prick free. You only need numbers to calculate your BMI. Your doctor takes your weight and height at every visit anyway. The extra five minutes it takes to punch some numbers can add years to your life.

8)Prevention is key. If after your obesity screening you find out you’re perfectly healthy, no harm is done. But if you find out your weight is negatively affecting your health, you are in position to take control of your life and make a change. Weight gain can be a slippery slope, and it’s easier to fix if you recognize the problem before it becomes chronic.

By:Suja Pilli, MD and Shaun J. Adams, MSN, FNP-C