11. Special Treatment Groups
The needs of special patient groups must be addressed when considering treatment options for overweight and obesity. The guidelines focus on three such groups including smokers, older adults, and diverse patient populations.
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for cardiopulmonary disease. Because of its attendant high risk, smoking cessation is a major goal of risk-factor management. This aim is especially important in the overweight or obese patient, who usually carries excess risk from obesity-associated risk factors. Thus, smoking cessation in these patients becomes a high priority for risk reduction. Smoking and obesity together apparently compound cardiovascular risk, but fear of weight gain upon smoking cessation is an obstacle for many patients. Therefore, the panel recommends that:
All smokers, regardless of their weight status, should quit smoking. Evidence Category A. Prevention of weight gain should be encouraged and if weight gain does occur, it should be treated through dietary therapy, physical activity, and behavior therapy, maintaining the primary emphasis on the importance of abstinence from smoking. Evidence Category C.
2. Older Adults
The general nutritional safety of weight reduction at older ages is of concern because restrictions on overall food intake due to dieting could result in inadequate intake of protein or essential vitamins or minerals. In addition, involuntary weight loss indicative of occult disease might be mistaken for success in voluntary weight reduction.
These concerns can be alleviated by providing proper nutritional counseling and regular body weight monitoring in older persons for whom weight reduction is prescribed. A review of several studies indicates that age alone should not preclude treatment for obesity in adult men and women. In fact, there is evidence from RCTs that weight reduction has similar effects in improving cardiovascular disease risk factors in older and younger adults. Therefore, in the panel’s judgment:
A clinical decision to forego obesity treatment in older adults should be guided by an evaluation of the potential benefits of weight reduction for day-to-day functioning and reduction of the risk of future cardiovascular events, as well as the patient’s motivation for weight reduction. Care must be taken to ensure that any weight reduction program minimizes the likelihood of adverse effects on bone health or other aspects of nutritional status. Evidence Category D.
3. Diverse Patient Populations
Standard obesity treatment approaches should be tailored to the needs of various patients or patient groups. It is, however, difficult to determine from the literature how often this occurs, how specific programs and outcomes are influenced by tailoring, and whether it makes weight loss programs more effective. After reviewing two RCTs, four cross-sectional studies, and four intervention studies, as well as additional published literature on treatment approaches with diverse patient populations, the panel recommends the following: The possibility that a standard approach to weight loss will work differently in diverse patient populations must be considered when setting expectations about treatment outcomes. Evidence Category B.