The Dollars and Sense of Obesity Medicine Certification

APRIL 10, 2016
Ed Rabinowitz
Lifestyle, obesity, overweight, practice management, More than one-third of adults (34.9%) were obese in the US in 2012, and every state had a rate of obesity that exceeded 20%. Three states—Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi—have rates above 30%.
But the good news is that there are now more full-fledged doctors who specialize in obesity medicine trained and ready to combat this growing health epidemic.
The American Board of Obesity Medicine reports that a record 429 examinees passed the certification exam administered in December 2015, bringing the total number of ABOM diplomats in the U.S. and Canada to close to 1,600.
“Obesity is the leading driver of more than 70 other illnesses,” says Louis Aronne, MD, board chairman for the American Board of Obesity Medicine. “We think that treating obesity effectively should be part of healthcare. That should be our role. And to do that you need people who have the knowledge of this area. We have the breadth of knowledge, the specialized knowledge to manage patients.”
Diverse Group of Specialties
Aronne explains that ABOM recognizes that obesity is a disease that affects people of many types and with many other health problems. He also points out that the American Board of Medical Specialties has recognized obesity medicine as a clinical specialty. As such, the goal is to have a wide range of physicians become familiar with the specifics of obesity medicine.
That’s evident when examining the diverse group of specialties from which the newly certified (December 2015) hail. The group includes 141 internists, 123 family physicians, 33 endocrinologists, 28 pediatricians, 24 obstetricians/gynecologists, 14 gastroenterologists, and 10 surgeons.
“A big role of ours is helping people in other parts of the institution to develop treatment programs in cancer, heart disease, and gastroenterologists who deal with liver disease,” Aronne says. “How do you manage all the women with breast cancer, for example, who have weight problems and need an oncologist? That’s the type of concept that is really revolutionizing healthcare.”
Aronne says that becoming certified in obesity medicine provides physicians with the same level of qualification and confidence any specialist would have. He explains that many healthcare professionals don’t fully understand what obesity medicine is. He defines it as managing people in a way that focuses on their weight as a central problem that may be causing the other medical problems that they have.
Monetary Factors
Wendy Scinta, MD, MS is medical director for Medical Weight Loss of New York, PLLC, and an assistant professor of family medicine at SUNY Upstate. She is also the president-elect on the board of trustees of the Obesity Medicine Association.

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