Your everyday choices regarding what you eat and how often you move can have drastic impacts on your overall health.
In the United States, about one out of three adults are obese, according to recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which leads to major health risks and a higher incidence of severe illness.
In order to prevent the occurrence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension in patients, healthcare providers should provide lifestyle guidance to patients who practice unhealthy behaviors. However, practicing what you preach is a vital part of providing actionable advice. As a result, professionals in the medical field should also attempt to maintain healthy dietary habits to positively influence their patients.
Why Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle is Crucial for Medical Professionals
Being a part of the medical field carries the responsibility of positively influencing the lifestyles of individuals. A review of various research studies published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found compelling evidence to demonstrate that “physically active physicians and other health care professionals are more likely to provide physical activity (PA) counseling to their patients and can indeed become powerful PA role models.” One reason for this is that active professionals are potentially more credible and motivating in terms of giving advice, making patients more likely to listen and implement these changes. This is particularly true given how much more contact people have with medical professionals compared to any other health and wellness specialist, with Maryville University detailing how healthcare represents 9 percent of the country’s total national employment. With healthcare providers often the only health related point of contact for the vast majority of people, they are best suited to set a good example and become a PA role model.
Healthcare Providers’ Role in Alleviating Obesity
The prevalence of obesity is a serious issue in the US, continuing to rise in adults over the past decade, according to 2018 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, combating the rise of obesity can be a difficult and sensitive task for healthcare providers. Having a poor diet and an inactive lifestyle are some of the leading causes of obesity, with a diagnostic guide by the American Medical Association “determining patients’ eating patterns can be a major challenge for physicians, especially given the limited time available in consultations.” They recommend asking questions like “What is your family’s favorite dinner?” to suggest healthier modifications, and “When you’re thirsty, what kind of drink do you reach for?” to see if they primarily consume sweetened beverages.
For patients who experience barriers to making healthy choices, it helps to have a healthcare provider who can share their personal experience on dietary changes they had to make in their own life. Being realistic, relatable, and sympathetic will help your patients be less defensive about their eating habits and more open to making the necessary modifications.
Ultimately, while seeing to the needs of their patients, healthcare providers should examine their own lifestyle habits and see where they can make positive changes in terms of diet or physical activity. Through their own struggles, they can counsel and inspire patients on how to implement small and gradual changes. If you’re a medical professional who experiences difficulty with pursuing a healthy lifestyle, perhaps Networking Amongst Clinicians, as we discussed in a previous article, can help you find some friends to help motivate you and keep you on the right track.
About Jane Barkley:
Jane Barkley finds a one-of-a-kind satisfaction in balancing her life as a university student and a wannabe CrossFit competitor. During weekends, she spends most of her time blogging, as well as writing poems and composing songs.
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