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[FAT, TAKE 2] Consensus: obesity a chronic disease

Six US organizations dedicated to the prevention and treatment of obesity have collaborated to develop a consensus statement on obesity, considered a complex, chronic disease that impacts nearly 42% of adults and 19% of children and adolescents. The collaboration aims to address the various roadblocks that the organizations face when addressing efforts to improve access to obesity treatment and reduce weight stigma and bias surrounding the disease.

The consensus statement reads as follows:

"Obesity is a highly prevalent chronic disease characterized by excessive fat accumulation or distribution that presents a risk to health and requires life-long care. Virtually every system in the body is affected by obesity. Major chronic diseases associated with obesity include diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Body mass index (BMI; weight in kilograms/height in meters 2) is used to screen for obesity but it does not displace clinical judgment. BMI is not a measure of body fat. Social determinants, race, ethnicity and age may modify the risk associated with a given BMI.

Bias and stigmatization directed at people with obesity contribute to poor health and impairs treatment.

Every person with obesity should have access to evidence-based treatment."

Organizations joining The Obesity Society in the initiative include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), Obesity Action Coalition, Obesity Medicine Association, and the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance.

"Obesity is not the same in every person," said ASMBS President Teresa LaMasters, MD. "There is a variability in response to all treatments for the disease. Similar to treating cancer, we need to approach the disease using multi-modal therapy to achieve the best long-term treatment of obesity. This includes medication, surgery, endoscopy, lifestyle changes and behavioral health interventions."

In addition to reducing bias and stigma, the recognition of obesity as a disease is a critical step forward in the effort to expand access to evidence-based treatments for patients living with this disease," according to the six collaborating organizations. Other organizations are invited to join this effort.

To learn more, visit https://www.obesity.org/

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