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How Can Rural Healthcare Providers Address Obesity?

Provider-oriented interventions use methods or techniques that directly engage a healthcare professional or a team of professionals to address overweight and obesity. In rural communities, these interventions can provide an ongoing source of support, guidance, and accountability for behavior change for those who are overweight or obese. The reach of interventions can be increased by targeting patient populations at increased risk of overweight and obesity, or who are experiencing associated health problems such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or cardiovascular disease. Additionally, pediatricians can play an important role in the primary prevention of childhood obesity.

Healthcare providers can help patients receive ongoing support for behavior change by linking with community-based organizations. Broad types of interventions that can take place in clinical settings include those oriented toward providers, and those oriented towards patients.

Patient-oriented interventions use techniques such as psychological, lifestyle, or behavioral counseling. Such interventions can be adapted to either a clinical or a community-based setting. In clinical settings, they are generally designed to address one person at a time to achieve individual-level changes.

Many rural counties are designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas, where there is a shortage of primary medical care. Rural clinics are an important setting for early detection and treatment of obesity. Because many have extremely limited resources, it is important for them to choose tested and effective strategies to deliver positive results.

Models for Health Providers