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Meaningful Obesity Screenings and the Affordable Care Act

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The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obama Care) was designed to transform an outdated, 20th century, reactive, disease oriented health care system into a modern, 21st century, pro-active, PREVENTION ORIENTED health care system. And since it leads to so many other medical problems, OBESITY is one of the primary targets of the ACA.

Thus in this spirit of prevention, for the first time ever, insurance carriers are now being instructed to PAY DOCTORS to conduct “obesity screenings” in an effort to make people more aware of obesity and all the related medical issues that follow in its wake. When it’s done (frequency is a big issue), an obesity screening generally consists of recording a patient’s height, weight, gender, and in the case of children, their date of birth. This data is entered into a computer calculator and it generates a Body Mass Index (BMI) score.

If the participant’s BMI falls between 20 and 25 they’re considered to be “normal weight.” If it falls between 25 and 30 they’re considered to be “overweight.” If it is 30 or higher they’re considered to be “obese.”

Problems With the Conventional Screening
The problem with this procedure is threefold. First, it's well documented that BMI has serious accuracy issues. Second, BMI is abstract, formulaic, and participants seldom understand it. This makes BMI based screenings fairly meaningless to most people. Finally, the feedback is so infrequent that BMI screenings inevitably fail to motivate anyone, especially kids, into taking the action required to prevent or rehabilitate obesity.

Overcoming Those Problems
However, if you start with BMI (whose main virtues include it’s initial lack of expense, and it’s blessing from the US Center for Disease Control) and add a FORE Score reading (whose main virtues include accuracy, simplicity, understandability, lack of expense, and weekly feedback), you not only satisfy the CDC, but you also give participants what we like to call a MEANINGFUL OBESITY SCREENING. Participants understand WHAT they’re doing. They understand WHY they’re doing it. And they’re intrinsically, SELF-MOTIVATED to act in accordance with the goals they set for themselves.

All that said, there have been many failures in the obesity prevention/rehab field over the past decade and a half as demonstrated by our failure to even minimally dent the epidemic. But the biggest failure by far has been the inability to SYSTEMATICALLY MOTIVATE people, especially kids, to do the things they must do in order to prevent or rehabilitate an obesity problem. In other words, if they don’t want it enough to act accordingly, it’s a losing battle. You can lead that horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

But by combining the conventionally accepted BMI together with a FORE Score reading, you not only cultivate the necessary intrinsic motivation (that horse will drink of its own accord), but you also give physicians a meaningful tool with which they can work in good conscience and expect to see documented results in their clients. Without that, why even bother to try?

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