AMA Works to Improve Obesity Education for Physicians

CHICAGO (June 8, 2015) – Today, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP), working with the American Medical Association (AMA), took another step toward improving the treatment of obesity.

The AMA will work with accrediting organizations to analyze the state of obesity education in medical schools and for physicians in training, identify organizations that provide good educational toolkits and resources, and finally, make recommendations to address those gaps.

“This resolution puts the AMA in a position to make a real difference in how obesity is treated in this country,” said Dr. Ethan Lazarus, ASBP’s AMA delegate. “We have to educate our future doctors about treating a disease that continues to affect more than one-third of the population.”

Dr. Lazarus added, “Most physicians in this country received little to no training with regards to obesity and continue to counsel patients affected by weight to eat less and exercise more. Current science does not support this as an effective and sustainable treatment strategy.”

This action by the AMA follows its recognition that obesity is a disease in 2013 and its advocacy efforts in 2014 to improve patient access to evidence-based obesity treatment as well as provide insurance coverage for these treatments.

“We wanted to introduce a resolution that goes beyond recognition and truly creates a call-to-action for obesity education in medical schools,” said Dr. Carolynn Francavilla, ASBP’s alternate AMA delegate.

Drs. Lazarus and Francavilla also hosted the first-ever obesity caucus at the annual meeting. The caucus brought together leaders from many organizations as well as AMA staffers involved in the AMA’s efforts to improve health outcomes. Participants at the caucus worked on developing collaborative initiatives to further improve treatment and prevention of obesity, reduce weight bias, improve obesity education, and help reverse the obesity pandemic.


Your Voice Makes a Difference – A Guide on How You Can Help Fellow Individuals Affected by Obesity

Obesity impacts one in three Americans. It is estimated that more than 93 million Americans are affected by obesity, with that number predicted to rise to 120 million in the next five years. Within this population, it is estimated that 8-10 million Americans are affected by severe obesity – a disease characterized by an individual being 100 pounds or more over their ideal body weight.

As any individual affected by obesity knows, obesity is a complex chronic disease. It is not simply a condition caused by overeating. Individuals affected often experience a wide variety of other obesity-related conditions including diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea and cancer, which are serious medical risks. Adding to the challenge, individuals affected are often denied access to needed medical treatment (medical weight management and/or bariatric surgery) as some payors (insurance companies, etc.) and employers do not recognize obesity as a disease.

The OAC encourages individuals affected by obesity to educate themselves about obesity, its complications and treatments. We believe that educated individuals are best able to make decisions about their health care, and therefore are able to be healthier and happier.

We also encourage patients to support one another. There is no one better to share the social, emotional, physical and medical impact of obesity than someone who has been personally affected.

And finally, in addition to educating themselves and supporting others, the OAC encourages individuals to become advocates for change. You can impact how others view obesity and influence decision makers. Help us to eliminate the weight bias associated with this disease and make sure that obesity is treated as a disease, allowing for increased access to safe and effective medical treatment.

Here is a list of ways you can educate, support and advocate for individuals affected by obesity:
Educate Legislators

Elected United States officials at the local, state and federal level play a significant role in our society and healthcare. Often, the laws they create directly influence our day-to-day lives or regulate the medical treatments we receive. However, the majority of legislators know little about obesity, its effects and treatments.

As an American, it is your right to build a relationship with your elected officials and to advocate for positive change. It is through the voice of individuals affected by obesity, family members and medical professionals that legislators learn how current, pending and future laws impact Americans. The OAC encourages you to reach out to your legislators.

There are a variety of ways you can reach out to your legislators including mail, email, phone, attending town hall meetings or in-person. No matter how you choose to communicate, be as clear and concise as possible. Share your personal story with your elected official and encourage your family and friends to do the same. Keep in mind that you elect your lawmakers. They serve you and need to know issues important to you.


Educate Regulators

In addition to elected officials, those who work for the government agencies that regulate healthcare play a major role. Such agencies include the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Food and Drug Administration, National Institute for Health and Centers for Disease Control, among many others. Often times, regulatory agencies welcome participation through public comment periods on proposed policies. Public comments are a great opportunity to share your view on a proposed regulation.


Educate the Media

In the U.S., the media is tremendously influential. Encourage your local media to produce accurate stories on obesity. Do not hesitate to contact local newspaper reporters and/or television health reporters and share your story. Try to build a good relationship with the local media by providing accurate information and timely responses. If you see a story, television show or article and believe it was inaccurate, one-sided and/or added to the negative stigma of obesity, write or call the media outlet and share your concerns.

The general public is bombarded on a daily basis by images and stories from the media. Many of them are one-sided or inaccurate. Reach out to your local media and encourage them to portray obesity accurately. Subscribe to the Obesity Action Alert to stay up-to-date on the latest major media stories on obesity.


Educate Insurers and Employers

Does your health insurance company offer coverage for obesity treatment? If you have been seeking treatment, you may already know. If you do not know, find out by calling the member services number on your insurance card. If coverage is not offered or you believe the procedures to access care are too complicated, do not hesitate to write the medical director of the insurance company and ask for an explanation.

Often, your human resources department or benefits manager at work plays a major role in deciding which health conditions are covered by your health insurance (and which insurance policies are offered). Share the seriousness of obesity and the importance of obesity coverage with them and encourage them to seek out policies that offer obesity coverage as a benefit.

To provide your employer and insurance company with statistics demonstrating the effectiveness of obesity treatments, and to learn how to work with your insurance provider, please click here.


Educate the General Public

We have already discussed the influence the media has on the general public, but you can have an influence as well. It is important that the public receives accurate information on the risks and treatments of obesity, as well as the numerous related conditions (diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, etc.). You can be the source of such information by volunteering to speak on obesity at your place of worship, service club (Rotary Club, etc.) and/or your place of employment. Share your personal story; it will be tremendously influential.

Be Your Own Advocate

Learn as much as you can about obesity, its risks and treatments to best take care of yourself. Not only will you likely improve your own quality of life and quality of health, you will be an inspiration to others.

Join and Encourage Others to Join the OAC

Join and encourage others to join in our efforts to educate, advocate and support those affected by obesity.

For more information on membership, please click here.

The OAC is an IRS registered 501(c)3 National non-profit organization dedicated to giving a voice to those affected by obesity. The OAC was formed to build a nationwide coalition of those affected to become active advocates and spread the important message of the need for obesity education. To increase obesity education, the OAC offers a wide variety of free educational resources on obesity, severe obesity and childhood obesity, in addition to consequences and treatments of these conditions. The OAC also conducts advocacy efforts throughout the U.S. on both the National and state levels, and encourages individuals to become proactive advocates.

To achieve our mission, the OAC will:

  • Increase public education on obesity
  • Advocate for access to safe treatment
  • Strive to eliminate the negative stigma associated with obesity
  • Promote research in new and effective treatments
  • Empower individuals affected by obesity to take action


Get Your Kids off the Couch without Leaving Your Home

School breaks and spare time shouldn’t be spent wasted on TV, computer, and video games.  Kids can easily make-up reasons not to go outside such as the weather being too cold or too hot, not finding the activity fun, or not being into sports, but these shouldn’t be a reason not to get active. Nowadays, there are lots of available physical indoor activities that can be done without leaving your home. Make your kids get off the couch and start doing these activities within the comfort of your home.

Understanding the Importance of Play

Aside from preventing childhood obesity, play is also best for growing brains as it helps a child’s learning process. Play enables children to acquire different developmental skills such as cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills. These can help them acquire abilities on problem solving, mental planning, evaluation, social skills, and of course, to be physically active.

Limited but Active TV Time

According to PBS parents, watching television does not have to be an idle activity. Children do not have to be on the couch all the time. It is best for parents to get them to march, sing, and dance with the characters on television. Picking the right show is also the trick. As much as possible, TV time should be limited. Active learning can take many forms. Parents should explain or let their children understand that leisure time must not be spent just on television, computers, or video games.

Learn from One Another

A simple way to make kids move is by asking him to teach you how he learned that move from karate class and you in turn, can share an easy pose from yoga or a cool step in dancing. By doing this, you can make teaching and learning an enjoyable and beneficial activity for the both of you.

Household Chores

Physical activities helping healthier bodies in the long run do not always have be to be organized or via playgrounds. It can be as simple as doing household chores. Cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes or sweeping the floor can burn as much calories and allow kids to sweat. This also encourages a sense of growing up among kids. They can eventually develop a sense of responsibility as a member of the family.

Turn on the Tunes

Load up their favorite song and dance to it. You can put a twist on it by playing a game of Freeze. Let someone control the music and dance until it stops. Include challenges by making each level harder by doing a different poses.

Get Their Hands Dirty

Allow your kid’s creativity and imagination to run free by doing artworks or creating their own game. Provide them different tools and let them create as they please. They can start by baking, do an indoor volleyball using a balloon, go bowling using empty plastic bottles and a ball, do an easy science experiment, or start a race by blowing Pom Pom balls.

Play Like The 90’s

Back when TV, computer, and video games were not so famous, kids get creative with play. They find fun on Popsicle sticks, paper, or even a branch stick. Recreate that moment and travel back in the 90’s by playing a treasure hunt at home. You can hide small trinkets and treats for them to find. They can also make a fort out of pillows and bed linens and pretend that it’s their castle and they are the king or queen.

Family Dinner and Healthy Eating

Diet is also an important part in preventing obesity. The right food will give them energy to play and learn. The Prevention survey reveals that kids who sit down with their family to eat home-cooked meals are less likely to binge on fast food or fattier options. Additionally, children eating with their family regularly especially dinner consume more vegetables and fruits and are less tempted to consume fat and soda.

Focus on the Fun for the Short Attention Spanned

Kids are known to have a short attention span and most kids give up on active play because they don’t find it fun or enjoyable. Being focused on one kind of activity to keep them active is a common misconception among parents. It is very much important to keep any type of activities fun to keep them motivated. Make sure to include variations on his daily physical activity. You can focus on outdoor activities today and the next day can be done indoors masked as a rest day.

Parental guidance is a crucial part in keeping children healthy and active. It is best for guardians to check their children’s specific needs depending on their size, age, and height, among others. Some children require less physical activity while others require more. It also depends on their body composition. Proper diet, exercise and the right tools can help sustain a healthier outlook for kids.

About the Author:
Aby League is a qualitative researcher and a passionate writer. She is an innovator and technology enthusiast. She has been writing about health, psychology, home improvement and technology. To know her more, follow @abyleague on Twitter.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the views of the OAC, the National Board of Directors or staff. Information contained in this blog post is not based on scientific research and has not been validated. The OAC does not endorse or support any merchandise, program or hyperlink mentioned in this blog post.