In the March 2015 issue of The American Journal of Medicine (Vol 128, No 3), there was an article entitled A Candid Discussion of Obesity by Robert M. Doroghazi, MD.
You can read the article here: www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(14)00899-7/fulltext
Or in .pdf format here: A Candid Discussion of Obesity Editorial
Dr. Amy Articolo’s response:
As a proud member of The American Society of Bariatric Physicians, Board member of Obesity Treatment Foundation, and Diplomate of The American Board of Obesity Medicine, I am writing this as an editorial response to recently published editorials in medical journals.
As physicians, we are often faced with complex diseases. We know our patients “don’t read the book”. We also know that if they have made the decision to seek out our advice and care, they deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve to be given what we all swore to do when we first became doctors—“first do no harm”.
Obesity is a disease. This has been adopted and accepted by many organizations and institutions within our medical community. There are many management guidelines and algorithms that have been adopted and utilized, including but certainly not limited to: The American Society of Bariatric Physicians (obesity is a complex, chronic, relapsing, multifactorial, and neurobehavioral disease), The Obesity Society, USPSTF (all patients affected by obesity should be offered or referred for multi-component treatment, Grade B evidence), The American Heart Association, The American College of Cardiology, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American College of Endocrinology, The Endocrine Society, the American Society of Gastroenterologists, and The American Medical Association (obesity is a disease AND all patients affected by obesity should have full access to the full spectrum of evidence based treatment options). All of these organizations have recognized the need to identify and treat obesity as a disease, and offered various methods to apply our knowledge to help our patients.
Our patients desire and deserve to be treated without bias or judgment. They were brave enough to seek out our advice and ask for our help. To simply state “you are overweight because you eat too much” is similar to telling a person suffering from depression to “cheer up and smile”.
As we learn more about this complex disease, I feel that it is our duty to inform you, the patient, about treatment options and lifestyle changes that can impact your daily life. We need to tell you that a 5-10% reduction in weight will have a meaningful and valuable impact on your life and long-term health. Obesity is often a progressive and deadly disease, where those with a BMI over 40 has an expected reduction of life span by 5-8 years in comparison to those with normal BMI. The advice of “eat less, exercise more” has worked for less than 1 in 5 patients who chose this approach.
Obesity is a disease. Let us not forget that our patients need our knowledge, our science, and our compassion.
Amy Articolo, DO, FACOOG, Diplomate of ABOM