Warning About Weight in the Mail

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DANVILLE -- Some patients opening this letter in a geisinger health system envelope were a little surprised when they read what was inside. A message from their physcian group telling them their body mass index or BMI is considered "overweight" or "underweight".

Geisinger said around 20,000 of these letters went out. The weight and body mass index came from the patients last doctor's appointment.

Some of the patients who got these letters said they were offended by them.  Others tell us they don't think they deserved to get these letters because they don't consider themselves overweight.

Physians at Geisinger Practices said they weren't meant to offend anyone, they're meant to make people think about living healthier.

"This is not an issue to embarrass anybody, there is no intent to set these folks apart.  It's just the letters are very simple, we note that your BMI is not in the ideal range you may want to contact your physician and seek some counseling about this," said Dr. Rick Martin, a doctor for the Geisinger Health System.

Dr. Martin is a family pratitioner and oversees Geisinger physician groups.

He said this is the new way of thinking about healthcare, treating patients before they get sick.

"This is a very diferent approach, one of the definiciencies in healthcare nationwide is that we treat illness and we don't treat wellness," said Dr. Martin.

And he said obesity is becoming a growing problem creating all kinds of health issues. He said losing weight is vital to preventing them.

The letters are part of a statewide inititive of health insurers reaching out to patients to think healthy living.

"This is the way we practice anymore, we really try to reach out and keep patients informed about their care," said Dr. Martin.