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Obesity rates stabilizing

Although obesity prevalence remains high among adults in the United States, the rate of growth has slowed over the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics study. A similar trend has emerged among children and adolescents, indicates a separate study, also conducted by NCHS. Both reports, and a related editorial, were posted online Jan. 13 as early release articles by the Journal of the American Medical Association ( Approximately 33.8% of adults were obese (having a body mass index of 30 or higher) during 2007-08, up from 30% in 1999-2000, according to the NCHS. School-age children experienced a smaller upswing in obesity rates (BMI levels for age at or above the 95th percentile), climbing from approximately 16% in 1999-2002 to 17% in 2007-08. One exception: 6- to 19-year-old boys at the heaviest weight levels became heavier. Still, researchers said the increase in the obesity pre ...

Help Haiti: AMA registers physician volunteers

Doctors interested in going to Haiti to provide medical assistance can enter themselves in a new volunteer physician registry set up by the American Medical Association and the National Disaster Life Support Foundation. The AMA plans to use the registry to help coordinate federal government and private-sector medical efforts responding to the devastation caused by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Jan. 12 and was followed by several aftershocks. Almost 200,00 Haitians are injured, the country's government estimates. "Practicing physicians, we need you," AMA President J. James Rohack, MD, wrote in a blog post. "Two weeks may have lapsed since devastation struck those in Haiti, but let's not forget the hundreds of thousands who are still suffering and need our help." The registry -- launched Jan. 26 -- is open to all licensed doctors and requests information such as specialty, language skills, availability and previous disaster medicine experience. The registry is available ...

Caregivers can be part of physician-patient relationship

The American College of Physicians has issued a position paper to help guide physicians through the ethical challenges that can arise when the physician-patient relationship is broadened to include caregivers. The paper emphasizes the need for respect of patients' dignity, rights and values, and provides guidance for effective communication among all parties. Although many physicians understand that patients' family members and neighbors are important players on the health care team, caregivers sometimes are relegated to the shadows, said Dr. Virginia Hood, chair of ACP's Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee, which developed the paper. "Although we don't want anything to interfere with the physician-patient relationship, which is still key to all health care, we have to work out ways that caregivers are a part of this process too -- as long as the patient agrees," Dr. Hood said. The paper was endorsed by 10 other professional medical societies. It was publishe ...