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Chiropractors ‘tell it like it is’ for weight loss motivation, according to study

Tackling body fat or BMI issues and finding weight loss motivation happens more easily with chiropractors according to a new health care study...

Tackling body fat or BMI issues and finding weight loss motivation happens more easily with chiropractors according to a new health care study

Chiropractic remains the U.S.’s third-largest primary health care profession behind medicine and dentistry. With an ever-increasing number of DCs specializing in nutrition and weight loss, chiropractors are more willing to “tell it like it is,” and offer weight loss motivation according to the Practice Analysis of Chiropractic 2020, a survey from the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE).

According to the study, 56% of DCs “several times a day…make specific recommendations to a patient regarding physical fitness and exercise promotion.” Several times a day DCs also say they “Make specific recommendations to a patient regarding changing risky or unhealthy behaviors” (35.1%) and “Make specific recommendations to a patient regarding nutritional and dietary changes” (37%).

DCs vs MDs on wellness, weight loss motivation

These stats are running the opposite of MDs, according to a study from December of last year, where Reuters Health reported, “[MDs] rarely talk about weight concerns with patients who are overweight or obese, and when they do, patients’ experiences tend to be negative, according to a new review of research based on interviews…Most often, doctors avoid the topic, leaving patients feeling stigmatized and neglected,” the study team reports in the journal Clinical Obesity.

“When doctors do talk about weight issues, they often seem to assume patients simply aren’t trying to address their weight, and offer ‘banal’ advice.”

Speaking with patients about weight loss

If a patient’s body mass index (BMI) is over 30, says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of national experts in disease and public health that advises primary care physicians on best practices, they should be referred to an intensive weight-loss program for weight loss motivation.

Chyke Doubeni, a University of Pennsylvania primary care physician and professor of family medicine and community health who is on the USPSTF, says the Affordable Care Act requires insurance providers to cover all recommended preventive services, but “the evidence suggests that primary care doctors are not talking to their patients about obesity and not offering them the services that could be helpful in losing weight and maintaining physical fitness,” she told NPR.

Debra Haire-Joshu, who directs the Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research at Washington University in St. Louis, says primary care doctors shouldn’t feel like they have to go it alone when it comes to counseling obese patients, and should refer these patients to others in the health community — like dietitians or DCs specializing in nutrition and weight loss.

The 2020 Practice Analysis survey also tallied 65% of doctors of chiropractic self-reporting that they “focus on wellness and maintenance of health” in addition to straight chiropractic adjusting.

The complete Practice Analysis of Chiropractic 2020 study is available at mynbce.org/practice-analysis-of-chiropractic-2020.

Rick Vach is editor-in-chief of Chiropractic Economics.

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