A consensus statement on obesity was released by the leading medical organizations involved in the research and treatment of obesity. The statement follows the recent release of new guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on the treatment of obesity in children that now include bariatric surgery and antiobesity medication as options.

“Our discussions led us to develop the consensus statement to give us a shared starting point for how we talk about obesity,” said Anthony G. Comuzzie, CEO of The Obesity Society, one of the organizations involved in developing the statement.

Table. Highlights of the Consensus Statement on Obesity

Obesity is a highly prevalent chronic disease characterized by excessive fat accumulation or distribution that presents a risk to health and requires life-long care. Virtually every system in the body is affected by obesity. Major chronic diseases associated with obesity include diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The body mass index (BMI, weight in kg/m2) is used to screen for obesity but it does not displace clinical judgment. Body mass index is not a measure of body fat. Social determinants, race, ethnicity, and age may modify the risk associated with a given BMI.
Bias and stigmatization directed at people with obesity contributes to poor health and impairs treatment.
Every person with obesity should have access to evidence-based treatment.

In addition to the Obesity Society, the other associations contributing to the statement were the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), Obesity Medicine Association (OMA), and the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance (STOP).

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“Obesity is not the same in every person. There is a variability in response to all treatments for the disease. Similar to treating cancer, we need to approach the disease using multi-modal therapy to achieve the best long-term treatment of obesity. This includes medication, surgery, endoscopy, lifestyle changes, and behavioral health interventions,” said ASMBS President Teresa LaMasters, MD, FACS, FASMBS, DABOM.

Angela Fitch, MD, FACP, FOMA, president of OMA, explained that there is a great deal of discussion surrounding the use of BMI to diagnose obesity. “Excess adipose tissue particularly in certain locations of the body, is what contributes to the disease of obesity and its complications, and BMI alone should not be used to diagnose obesity,” she said.

The goal of the consensus statement is to correct any misconceptions such as societal blame placed upon the individual about this disease. “No statement or discussion about obesity is complete without recognizing the impacts bias and stigma about obesity and body weight have on both the health and quality of life of people living with obesity. Blame and shame are not solutions to the obesity epidemic. I’m encouraged by the unified effort to address obesity, recognizing that we must eliminate weight bias and stigma,” said OAC President/CEO Joseph Nadglowski.

“Access to care for people with chronic diseases such as obesity is one of our top priorities,” said president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Ellen R. Shanley, MBA, RDN, CDN, FAND. This includes access to intensive behavioral therapy that can individualize treatment strategies “as part of an interdisciplinary care team of qualified providers to help patients meet their health goals.”

Any care plan for obesity begins with patients being treated with dignity and respect by health care providers who are knowledgeable in evidence-based treatment options, according to TOS. This “must include adequate treatment coverage for all patients by insurance providers. To date, insurers have taken widely different approaches in determining which treatment services are covered for their members, resulting in great inequities in care. STOP’s proposed Comprehensive Care Benefit should guide insurers through the development of coverage plans moving forward.”


Country’s leading obesity care organization develop consensus statement on obesity. News release. The Obesity Society; January 31, 2023. Accessed January 31, 2023. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/countrys-leading-obesity-care-organizations-develop-consensus-statement-on-obesity-301734250.html

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor