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June 11, 2014

AMA Adopts Policy on Patient Access to Obesity Treatment Services

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The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) applauds the American Medical Association (AMA) for its adoption today of a policy advocating the need for patient access to a continuum of medically proven obesity treatment services.

The policy includes behavioral, pharmaceutical, psychosocial, nutritional and surgical interventions as being possible obesity treatment options, each of which are effective according to evidence-based medical research and practice.

“We are thrilled that through this and last year’s decisions, AMA has affirmed its commitment to working with us and fellow medical specialty societies focused on solving our global obesity crisis,” said OMA President Dr. Eric C. Westman (Durham, N.C.), who also served as the OMA 2014 delegate to AMA.

This policy comes one year after AMA’s decision recognizing obesity as a “disease requiring a range of medical interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention.” OMA representatives to the AMA House of Delegates played key roles in these decisions, alongside representatives from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery.

It is important to note that although AMA decisions do not have recognized legal implications, these policy decisions are often referenced by federal and state legislators and other decision makers when setting medical policy and health regulations.

With this and last year’s AMA policy adoptions on obesity, the implications for patients and the health care community may be far reaching. Possible changes include:

  • improved training in obesity at medical schools and residency programs,
  • reduced stigma of obesity by the public and physicians,
  • improved insurance benefits for obesity-specific treatment, and
  • increased research funding for both prevention and treatment strategies.