Obesity rate may be worse than expected

The U.S. obesity rate, a leading driver of rising healthcare costs, may be higher in than previously thought, particularly among women, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A recent study shows that the use of body mass index (BMI) in determining whether a person is underweight, normal, overweight or obese doesn’t take into account body fat percentage, causing the obesity epidemic to be underestimated, according to  CNN.com. Doctors involved in the study suggest that the current BMI obese threshold of 30 be lowered to 24 for women and 28 for men.

When people aren’t being diagnosed as obese, they’re not being told about their risk of disease or being given instruction on how to improve their health, according to U.S. News & World Report,   

The study was published in the journal PLoS One and conducted by Eric Braverman, M.D., president of the Path Foundation, a nonprofit organization in New York City dedicated to brain research, and Nirav Shah, M.D., who is now New York State Commissioner of Health.


Improving the Prognosis: Mammograms Mean Earlier Breast Cancer Detection

Mammograms detect cancer far earlier than any type of patient or physician examination. A recent study from the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle found that when mammograms detect breast cancer in women between the ages of 40 and 49, there is a trend toward earlier detection requiring less treatment, including lower likelihood of needing chemotherapy or reconstructive surgery.

 Other good news: When mammograms provide early detection of breast cancer, there is less chance of the disease recurring after treatment and lower mortality rates, than when detected by self-detection or a routine physician’s examination.

 Breast cancer affected more than 48,000 people in 2008, with over 11,000 individuals dying from the disease the following year. Many institutions are involved in the research and testing of new cancer treatments, such as the use of the mineral zinc.

Colonoscopies Prevent Cancer, Save Lives

Many Americans may be unaware that cancer of the colon and rectum is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. But the good news is that it is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers.

According to a newly released study from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, removing benign polyps by colonoscopy not only prevents colorectal cancer from developing, but also prevents deaths from the disease. As many as 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone over the age of 50 were routinely screened.

It’s been reported that the death rate for colon cancer has dropped in the last 15 years. Increased awareness and screening by colonoscopy may be the reason.

 YourCare, a health and wellness program from CoreSource, provides friendly reminders when participants are overdue for important preventive tests, including colonoscopies.

Patients Get Half of Preventive Health Screenings They Need

According to United Press International, patients in the U.S. receive only half of their recommended health screenings when they go in for their annual check-ups.

While patients most often received screenings for colorectal cancer, hypertension and breast cancer, they were least likely to receive counseling on aspirin use, vision screening and recommended influenza immunization.

Preventive screenings can curb serious health problems, according to an article from the Health News Digest. For example, mammograms lower the risk of dying from breast cancer in 35 percent of the women over the age of 50. However, only half the eligible women in the U.S. get their recommended annual mammogram.

A colonoscopy, recommended every 10 years  by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, could save more than 18,000 lives annually from colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of U.S. cancer-related deaths. Yet even though colorectal cancer screenings are more widely received than other screenings, fewer than half the adults over age 50 are up-to-date with this screening. 

Patients may not insist on getting screenings and doctors may fail to ask, according to “The Wellness Guide to Preventive Care” from the UC Berkeley Wellness Newsletter. That’s where the CoreSource YourCare program steps in. While the program is most known for helping people with chronic conditions to maintain better health, YourCare also sends reminders to all members when recommended health screenings should be scheduled with a primary care doctor or specialist. It also offers health coaching for all members or at-risk members based on the program level.

Consumer-Driven Health Plans Cover 7% of Adult Health Plan Members

Enrollment in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) continued its small but steady growth in 2011, according to the 11th annual EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey.  The survey showed that 7 percent of the U.S. adult population who are members of an employer-sponsored plan or who have an individual policy were enrolled in a CDHP, up from 5 percent last year, according to the Society for Human Resources Management. The survey also showed that traditional health insurance plans continue to remain the primary form of health coverage for employees across the country, The Kansas City Star reported. The survey is sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Mathew Greenwald & Associates.

Campaign Takes Aim at Inappropriate Use of Medical Tests, Procedures

The ABIM Foundation, which seeks to improve the U.S. healthcare system by advancing medical professionalism, has joined with top physician organizations and Consumer Reports to reduce inappropriate use of medical tests and procedures, a major driver of healthcare costs, according to news reports. As part of the Choosing Wisely campaign, each physician group will develop a list of tests and procedures used by their specialty that should be discussed before they are performed, according to Medical Daily. The list will be released in April 2012. READ MORE …

Report: More Than 80% of Doctors Will Adopt EHR by 2016

About 80 percent of doctors are expected to have an electronic health record (EHR) by 2016, according to InformationWeek. The estimate is contained in “IDC MarketScape: U.S.A. Ambulatory EMR/EHR for Midsize and Large Practices 2011 Vendor Assessment,” a new report released by IDC Health Insights, which is based in Framingham, Mass. The report indicated that the EHR adoption rate among midsize and large practices was less than 25 percent in 2009, and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reports that 57 percent of office-based physicians used EHR systems in 2011. READ MORE …

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