to “Treat Obesity Seriously”

The American Board of Obesity Medicine partners with other nonprofit organizations within the field of obesity medicine to share information and enhance the growth of this emerging specialty. Occasionally, we highlight a partner so that ABOM diplomates and prospective candidates learn more about these important organizations. Below, learn more about The Obesity Society’s Treat Obesity Seriously campaign from The Obesity Society President Nikhil Dhurandhar, PhD, FTOS:

What is the Treat Obesity Seriously campaign?
Treat Obesity Seriously is a campaign created by The Obesity Society to encourage the treatment of obesity as a serious disease, like heart disease and cancer. The effort is intended to provide clinicians with tools to prevent, diagnose and treat obesity. TOS has created free materials for clinicians to use in their practices; health care providers can sign up online to receive them by mail.

The free clinician practice tools include:

BMI prescription pad. Clinicians can record and share information with patients about BMI and waist circumference, two of the primary measures of obesity. The pad also includes information about obesity-related risks and provides links to find out more information about the disease.

Physician office poster, “Obesity is a serious disease.” As they wait to see the doctor, patients can learn more about obesity, such as related health conditions and the significant impact moderate weight loss, as little as five percent, can have on these conditions.

BMI wheel calculator. Technology is not necessary to determine BMI. This simple, circular paper tool allows for a quick calculation of BMI by matching height and weight.

The campaign is also intended to encourage policymakers to improve access for obesity treatment so those affected can get the same necessary medical care and treatment coverage that’s available to all others who suffer from other chronic diseases. Some members of Congress are already working to improve access to weight-loss counseling and new prescription drugs for chronic weight management through Medicare.

In May 2015, Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) and Representatives Eric Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2015. This legislation will provide Medicare recipients and their health care providers with meaningful tools to treat and reduce obesity by improving access to obesity screening and counseling services, and new prescription drugs for chronic weight management. Learn more about how you can support the legislation below.

Why was the campaign developed and who was the driving force behind it?

Today, two out of three adults in the United States are affected by obesity or excess weight. It is widely accepted that obesity puts individuals at risk for more than 30 health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Obesity costs our health care system nearly $200 billion annually. However, evidence increasingly shows that it is harder for some people to take effective steps on their own to lose weight.

As one of the most complex, chronic medical conditions, successful treatment of obesity often requires the support and guidance of professionals. Unfortunately, the way many people look at obesity in the U.S. is limiting the treatment approach, which often means lower standards of care, inconsistent communication of treatment options and disjointed care coordination.

TOS developed the campaign to help shift the dialogue from blame to solution, and works with clinicians and policymakers to take steps to help those affected. Treat Obesity Seriously would not have been possible without the support of our Corporate Healthcare Advisory Council, which includes industry organizations that share our evidence-based commitment to treating obesity seriously.

How has the campaign been received and where do you envision it going from this point forward?
The campaign has been very well received by our members and partners. As we continue to spread the word, share our materials and secure new pledge signatories more and more clinicians and researchers are joining the call. Health care providers are excited to hang posters in their offices to facilitate conversations, and they are wearing their “I signed the pledge” lapel pins proudly.

We’re continuing to raise visibility of the campaign through our partnership efforts, and hope they will be successful in generating an even stronger call to action.

How can obesity medicine physicians support the campaign?

TOS pledgeThere are many ways obesity medicine physicians can support the campaign. They can start by signing the pledge. Each signature supports TOS’s efforts to educate policymakers, care providers and the public on the need to recognize obesity as a serious disease. A signature can also help facilitate the passage of policies at both the state and federal levels that improve coverage of and access to obesity treatments. After signing the pledge there is also an option to send a letter to Congress in support of TROA, which we hope they do!

Obesity medicine physicians can also integrate our clinician tools into their own practices. The materials, as described in detail above, are intended to help health care providers facilitate conversations with patients about obesity. It’s easy – just fill out the electronic request form on the Treat Obesity Seriously website (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Physicians – and others – can help spread the word about the pledge and the campaign to their friends and colleagues. As part of the campaign, we have developed a number of social media posts and images including a cover photo, profile picture and three social share images. We hope they will download these resources to post to their individual profiles.