tops 2,000 in US and Canada

The number of physicians who are board certified in obesity medicine now exceeds 2,000 in the U.S. and Canada. The 2,000 diplomates milestone was achieved as a record 486 examinees passed the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) certification test administered in December 2016. That makes obesity medicine one of the fastest growing fields in medicine and represents a 31 percent increase in ABOM diplomates over the previous year.

Officially recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association in 2013, obesity now affects nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults, contributing to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and other musculoskeletal and vascular problems. Most doctors want to help patients lose weight, according to a recent survey, but most also admit they have little or no training in weight management and nutrition.

“As an organization, ABOM is committed to using the certification process to increase patient access to physicians who are qualified to treat this disease,” said ABOM Executive Director Dana Brittan. “Eventually, we would like to see an obesity medicine physician in every community across the U.S. and Canada. With today’s announcement, we are closer to that goal.”

Obesity is a complex disease that requires specialized knowledge to manage effectively. However, many physicians are more comfortable treating the problems caused by obesity rather than the disease itself. The rise in the number of physicians from numerous specialties achieving ABOM diplomate status shows that there is significant interest from the medical community in training in effective treatment options and practical tools for obesity and weight management. ABOM certification also has the potential to add value to hospitals and other medical institutions that want to demonstrate the knowledge and expertise their staff brings to patient care and research.

“The rapid growth of obesity medicine shows physicians increasingly understand that obesity is a disease that directly impacts their patients’ health,” said ABOM Board Chairman Louis J. Aronne, M.D. “Being able to treat obesity – and not just the diseases it contributes to – is an increasingly important part of clinical practice.”

The 486 physicians who passed the most recent ABOM certification exam include internists (174), family physicians (151), endocrinologists (30), surgeons (24), pediatricians (22), obstetricians/gynecologists (20) and gastroenterologists (13), along with numerous other specialists.

ABOM diplomates use their certification in many ways, with some incorporating obesity medicine into their everyday practices and others devoting themselves full time to the treatment of obesity. Furthermore, the number of first-time ABOM certificates issued annually now exceeds those of other fields such as infectious disease, endocrinology and rheumatology.

Certification as an ABOM diplomate signifies specialized knowledge in the practice of obesity medicine and distinguishes a physician as having achieved competency in obesity care.