Obesity epidemic super-sizes medical care

Hospitals, doctor's offices make accommodations for larger patients

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The fad of super-sizing that has been a staple of fast food for years is now making its way to hospitals, as they work to expand their abilities to care for larger patients.

Hospitals and doctor's offices across the nation are making alterations, such changing the size of waiting room chairs and anchoring toilets to the ground instead of the wall. Medical professionals are also requiring the use of  longer needles that can penetrate thicker tissue.

"I think it's good for some, but not all of them need to be made that way," said Cindy Baksys. "If someone needs to be in a hospital, they need a bed for their size. But obesity is a problem."

Cecilia Hennig, a dietician, said the obesity epidemic worries her.

"Very concerned about it," said Hennig. "Obesity correlates with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes. And diabetes is a huge concern."

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than a third of all Americans are obese. Hennig deals with a number of people struggling with health problems as a result of obesity.

"It is a chronic disease once a person becomes obese. We need to really put our efforts on lifestyle changing habits," said Hennig.

One of the reasons hospitals have the larger chairs and toilets: the increasing number of bariatric patients who are getting weight loss surgery. At Memorial Hospital on Jacksonville's Southside they've had bariatric chairs for years. 

Hennig said she just hopes that Americans realize that super-sizing a chair isn't the way to deal with obesity.