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Societies support AMA obesity disease declaration

ASMBS, AACE, ASBP and TOS welcome decision

Following the vote by the American Medical Association to recognise obesity as a disease with multiple pathophysiological aspects requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention, several societies have welcomed the decision.

“The AMA joins a number of leading organizations that have previously made this classification, including the National Institutes of Health (1998), the Social Security Administration (1999), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2004), The Obesity Society (2008) and the American Association for Clinical Endocrinology (2012),” added Dr Jaime Ponce, President of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

“This is clearly a landmark day for the millions of Americans affected by obesity,” said Dr Jeffrey I. Mechanick, President of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), which sponsored the resolution at the AMA’s annual meeting.  “Obesity is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease, requiring a multidisciplinary treatment approach. This approach must encompass the best standards of care, both in terms of the treatments chosen, and the care coordination and clinical environment in which they are delivered. Adoption of this policy position by the AMA will help advocates in the obesity community address a number of key hurdles to individuals receiving critical medically necessary obesity treatment services.”

“We are at a tipping point. The scientific consensus and the mountain of evidence that have been built around the disease of obesity and its treatment cannot be ignored,” added Dr John Morton, ASMBS Secretary-Treasurer, Access Chair and Associate Professor of Surgery at Stanford University. “Now patient access to proven treatments needs to improve so scientific consensus is aligned with coverage policy.”

“Classifying obesity as a disease will reduce weight bias,” said Dr Ethan Lazarus of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.  “It means that medical students and residents will receive training in what obesity is and in the best treatment approaches. It means that the medical community will have incentive to research and develop new and better prevention and treatment strategies. But most importantly, it communicates to individuals affected by obesity that this is a chronic disease, not a problem of personal responsibility.”

“The passage of this new policy reinforces the science behind obesity prevention and treatment, stated Ted Kyle, Chair of The Obesity Society’s Advocacy Committee. “Obesity is a complex condition with numerous causes, many of which are largely beyond an individual’s control. The disease is a driver of much suffering, ill health and early mortality. People affected are too often subjected to enormous social stigma and discrimination. Recognition of obesity as a disease can help to ensure more resources are dedicated to needed research, prevention and
treatment We hope that it will encourage healthcare professionals to recognize obesity treatment as a needed and respected vocation, and also reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by the millions affected.”

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