Obese outrun smokers in visiting GP

The population of obese and overweight people has expanded rapidly in recent decades.  Body mass index (BMI), which is a simple ratio of your weight and height, has been a good indicator, whether you are obese or not.  A study published in Family Practice revealed that overweight people are more likely to make a visit to a General Practitioner as compared to smokers.  The rise in visit by obese people would translate into hospitals required to have more nurse staff.

About the study
The study was conducted by a team of researches at Maastricht University.  The study included:

  • review of GP data from almost 4,500 adults
  • participants were asked to fill a questionnaire designed to find out about their lifestyles, such as dietary habits, smoking and drinking habits, and routine exercise.

The expectation was that the people that were unhealthy or unfit were more liable to visit their GP.

Results of the study
BMI was on top of the list for all the lifestyle factors that were analyzed by the questionnaire.  The study revealed that

  • people with BMI in range of obesity were the most frequent visitor of doctors.
  • results held well for both men and women
  • higher rate of chronic illness was not the main cause of GP visits

Dr David Haslam, a GP and chair of the National Obesity Forum, backed up the results of the study by saying that “the results certainly reflected what he saw in his practice.”

Why obese people make more GP visits?
The reason for frequent visit by obese is not well understood and needs further work as indicated by study leads Dr Marjan van den Akker.  The fact is obesity comes with multiple health ailments such...

as sleeplessness, musculoskeletal pain and so on, which could be the reason. 


The plus and minus
Obesity increases risk of many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. Although it comes as a surprise that the obese people are making more visits to GP, the good news is that obese people

  • more than likely, can take preventive measure to shed off weight by becoming aware of the health risks during GP visits
  • potentially can be diagnosed early than later for the diseases

The minus would be that the hospitals would have to increase their nurse staff to take care of the surge in this patient population.  Although this is not a really negative point, but economy has put pressure on hospitals and they have been watching their staff counts tightly. 

Healthcare centres and clinics should increase their awareness programs, so that they can take benefit of the increase in obese population visit and put patients on preventive measures.  If you are over-weight or have family history of being overweight, do visit your GP and live healthier lifestyle.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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