Obesity specialists: Numbers are rising, led by primary care physicians

May 9, 2019

The American Board of Obesity Medicine announced that a record 726 physicians passed its board certification examination this year, with primary care physicians leading the way.

Americans’ waistlines are steadily expanding, and so is the number of doctors trained to help them deal with the problem.

The American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) announced Tuesday that a record 726 physicians passed its board certification examination this year. It brings to 3,377 the number of board-certified obesity specialists in the U.S. and Canada and represents a 27 percent increase from last year’s total of 2,656 the ABOM said.

The American Medical Association first recognized obesity as a disease in 2013. In that year there were 589 board-certified obesity specialists.

“The growth of obesity medicine board certification mirrors the rise in interest among physicians seeking a more evidence-based approach to treating patients coping with obesity,” Dana Brittan, ABOM executive director, said in a statement.

Among those who passed this year’s test, more than two-thirds were primary care physicians, including 279 internists, 202 family practitioners and 36 pediatricians.

“The strong showing from the primary care community is promising because PCPs are often in the best position to treat obesity,” said John Cleek, MD, ABOM board chair and medical director of the Vanderbilt Center for Medical Weight Loss in Nashville, Tenn.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40% of adults were obese in 2016. It is associated with higher risks for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stoke.

READ MORE: How physicians can individualize obesity care