There is no question that this country is facing an epidemic of obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of all American adults are obese (35 percent or 78.6 million).1 Furthermore, 17 percent of children and adolescents (12.7 million) in the United States are considered obese, as well.2
This rate is triple that of the previous generation, and all of this obesity comes at a rather steep cost. The CDC estimated the annual medical cost of obesity in the United States to be at $147 million in 2008.1 This figure was $1,429 higher than for medical costs of people of normal weight.
Given this epidemic, it’s easy to see how the weight loss and diet industry has become such a big business. ABC News estimated that more than 100 million people spend $20 billion a year on diet products, including books, drugs, and surgeries such as gastric bypass or lap band procedures. Additionally, the average dieter makes anywhere from four to five attempts per year to lose weight.3
All of this information should make it more than evident to DCs that not only is there a giant market for offering weight loss programs, but that there must be special considerations made for patients who are interested in these programs. Understanding these patients is key to building a successful weight loss program.
The wary patient
Many patients who come to see DCs for weight loss have spent considerable time, effort, and money on unsuccessful previous attempts. This, coupled with a high likelihood of skepticism as to the benefits of chiropractic, paints a picture of a weight loss patient who is wary, uncertain, or even outright dubious as to how chiropractic can help him achieve his weight loss goals.
Fortunately, this is the chance for DCs who are savvy about patient education to really shine. Start by explaining not only how chiropractic works in general, but also how it is uniquely poised to help patients lose weight. Give patients ample time to ask questions or discuss concerns. Allow them to be an active participant in losing weight—nothing is more discouraging for patients than feeling as though a weight loss program is simply imposed on them.
How chiropractic fits into the weight loss picture
Part of the reason patients often find themselves trapped in yo-yo weight loss is that nothing is done to address the underlying conditions that make it more difficult for them to stick to a diet or exercise plan. They are told that their knees or backs will hurt less if they lose weight, but achy knees and sore backs make it difficult for them to exercise enough to lose that weight. It’s a frustrating cycle for both patients and their regular doctors.
However, what if there was a way to provide patients relief from the very pain that makes it difficult for them to lose weight? A weight loss program that includes regular chiropractic adjustments can break that cycle of frustration and give patients the incentive they need to keep to a regular exercise routine. This is where chiropractic is unique among doctor-supervised weight loss programs.
Each patient is unique
Another part of the problem with many weight loss plans is that they treat all their patients the same way, when, in fact, there may be a variety of reasons why patients find it difficult to lose weight. For example, chronic insomnia, food allergies, and balance issues can affect metabolism, caloric intake, and exercise. Once again, this is where chiropractic can succeed where so many other programs fail. Rather than treating all patients in a cookie-cutter fashion, chiropractic can help get at the underlying issues impeding patients’ weight loss goals.
1 Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Adult obesity facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. Updated September 2014. Accessed February 2015.
2 Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Childhood overweight and obesity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html. Updated August 2013. Accessed February 2015.
3 ABC News Staff. “100 million dieters, $20 billion: The weight-loss industry by the numbers.” ABCNews.com. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/100-million-dieters-20-billion-weight-loss-industry/story?id=16297197. Published May 2012. Accessed February 2015.