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Rx role in fighting obesity.

According to Lawrence Cheskin, director of Johns Hopkins University's Weight Management Center, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In the past generation alone the incidence of obesity has nearly doubled; 64% of American adults are now overweight or obese.

The prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents is increasing at an even greater rate than in their parents' generation. In fact, the most rapidly growing segment of the obese population is the extremely or "morbidly" obese. People with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 kg/[m.sup.2] now comprise 2.3% of the adult population of the U.S., compared with just 0.9% of adults 10 years earlier.

Also alarming is the fact that, with increasing adoption of a "Western" lifestyle in less-developed and Third World countries, the obesity epidemic seems destined to become a pandemic health issue demanding the attention of all health care professionals. It is now abundantly clear that there is a direct link between morbid obesity and a substantially increased risk for illness and premature death.

These complications are manifested in a plethora of comorbidities and illnesses, including cardio- and cerebrovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; arthritis; sleep apnea; cancers of the breast, uterus, colon and rectum; complications of pregnancy and surgery; and even dementia. Recent data from a Framingham study suggest that the mean life expectancy among the obese may be reduced by as much as seven years.

Neither the general public nor pharmacists need capitulate to the inevitability of this growing trend. In fact, obesity is both treatable and preventable if addressed early and consistently with proper social, psychological and medical intervention. So the question becomes what, if anything, within the purview of health policy can pharmacists do to contribute to a solution to the growing obesity problem in America?

Here are a few facts to put the costs of obesity into perspective:

* Obesity is overtaking smoking as the No. 1 preventable cause of death.

* Obesity and inactivity are estimated to cause between 300,000 and 400,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.

* One-year direct and indirect costs of obesity are estimated at $117 billion.

* Treatment of obesity and correlated diseases represents 9% of all U.S. health care costs.

Pharmacists who complete this month's free online CE program, written by Cheskin and sponsored by Jason Pharmaceuticals, will be able to:

* Discuss social and psychological factors contributing to the growing epidemic of obesity in America.

* Describe how obesity and BMI relate to comorbidity and life expectancy.

* Describe how physical activity, dieting and portion control can reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with obesity.

* Describe the "seven best hopes" for preventing obesity.

* Answer the question "Are health professionals adequately addressing issues of obesity?"

To learn more about obesity and complete this entire CE program, please visit

Peter Rubino is director for continuing professional education at

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Title Annotation:obesity risk factors
Author:Rubino, Peter
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
Previous Article:CE courses online.
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