DOCTOR, SLIM THYSELF An informal survey conducted at an American Medical Association (AMA) meeting last week reveals that doctors have nearly as much problem with their weight as civilians do.

The survey of more than 400 members, using self-reported body weight and federal obesity guidelines, showed that 47 percent were overweight and 19 percent were obese. One-third were of normal weight or less.

"Doctors do hard work that requires long hours, and many don't get the physical activity that they should get," said physician Ronald Davis of Detroit, who said his weight was normal. Still, Davis said the AMA could do more to promote fitness among its members.

Davis, a preventive medicine specialist, said the AMA plans to concentrate on fitness in much the same way it attacked smoking among the nation's doctors. He said that currently less than 5 percent of physicians smoke, which is a tribute to the anti-smoking efforts of the organization. He noted that the AMA has "handed out pedometers to encourage members to walk."

OH, THE PAIN RELIEVER If you're taking a COX-2 inhibitor -- drugs like Celebrex and Vioxx, usually prescribed to treat the pain of arthritis -- you may be undercutting its benefits if you also take aspirin.

A large study published last week in Archives of Internal Medicine found that more than half of patients within a predominantly retiree population of people taking COX-2 anti-inflammatory drugs on a long-term basis were also taking aspirin therapy for its cardio-protective benefit.

Previously published clinical research has shown that using aspirin along with COX-2 therapies can negate the gastrointestinal benefit of using COX-2 drugs. Those expensive medications are often prescribed because they are kinder to the gut than other pain relievers.

Researchers at pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts recommend that patients taking a COX-2 for pain and aspirin to prevent heart attacks should talk to their doctor about a different -- and presumably less expensive -- drug regimen.

SO NOTED "I'll bet Ron a future hip replacement that legislation forcing young, healthy workers to buy into health coverage participation will prove to be decidedly unproductive."

-- National Association of Manufacturers' VP Neil Trautwein, responding to Families USA head Ron Pollack's argument that uninsured young workers should be required to carry health insurance.

-- From Staff and Wire Reports