What is Obesity Medicine?
Obesity medicine is the study, understanding and treatment of the medical disease, obesity. In America, obesity was recognized by the American Medical Association as a disease in 2013. Similarly, the world health organization recognized obesity as a disease where “Abnormal or excessive body fat presents a risk to the health.”
What is the difference between Obesity Medicine, Weight Loss Medicine, and Bariatric Medicine?
Over 60 years ago, a small group of physicians here in Colorado decided to form a community of doctors dedicated to the study and treatment of obesity. They called this group “The American Society of Bariatric Medicine” or ASBP. The term “Bariatric” is derived from the Greek language and means “To Weigh.” In more recent years, weight loss surgery has gained in popularity, and the term Bariatric now is often associated with bariatric surgical procedures. In these days, the main areas of focus were how to help a patient lose weight. Therefore, bariatric medicine became more or less synonymous with weight loss medicine.
After obesity was recognized as a disease in 2013, the ASBP went through a re-branding changing their name to the “Obesity Medicine Association” or OMA. The new name recognizes that treatment of obesity is about far more than just losing weight. Its about treatment of obesity as a medical disease, similar to heart disease or diabetes. In diabetes, we don’t just lower the blood sugar. We monitor the eyes, the kidneys, the heart and the feet. We monitor the blood pressure and try to reduce the risk of diabetes resulting in a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, or loss of limb. Similarly, in obesity treatment, it has been recognized that obesity can contribute to 236 other disease states including 13 types of cancer. While weight loss can be part of the treatment of obesity, it is certainly not complete treatment.
Long ago, another group of physicians formed a research group called the “North American Association for the Study of Obesity” or NAASO. This group was comprised primarily of researches seeking to understand the basic science around obesity. Similar to the OMA, they rebranded and are now called “The Obesity Society” or TOS. TOS reports their mission statement as follows: “To promote innovative research, effective and accessible care, and public health initiatives that will reduce the personal and societal burden of obesity. OUR VALUES: Rigorous science, highest professional standards, and strength through diversity.”
Obesity Medicine Specialist
An Obesity Medicine Specialist (also called a weight loss doctor) is a doctor who has pursued advanced training in obesity, including how to help people lose weight, keep it off, and identification and management of other weight-related problems. Physicians can learn about proper diagnosis and treatment of obesity by becoming certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Use the buttons below to learn more about obesity medicine and what a weight loss doctor can do, or click here to read more…