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June 21, 2017

Report from the AMA Annual Meeting

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The Obesity Medicine Association was represented at the American Medical Association (AMA) Annual Meeting by delegate Ethan Lazarus, MD, and alternate delegate Carolynn Francavilla, MD. This was an incredible meeting for the Obesity Medicine Association for many reasons.

Destigmatizing Obesity Resolution

Dr. Lazarus and Dr. Francavilla authored a destigmatizing obesity resolution calling for person-first language to be used at AMA meetings and in AMA resolutions and reports. It further called for preferred terms to be used when discussing obesity, including “weight” and “unhealthy weight,” and discouraged the use of stigmatizing terms, such as “fat.” And third, it called on the AMA to educate physicians with regards to weight bias and to encourage equipping their offices with appropriate chairs, tables, gowns, and medical equipment for patients of all sizes. We successfully engaged numerous other organizations to co-sponsor the resolution. We received support from the 14 states of the PacWest coalition, the attendees at the obesity caucus, and numerous other state and specialty societies. The resolution passed and is now the official policy of the AMA.

The official language of the resolution reads as follows:

“That our American Medical Association encourage the use of person-first language (patients with obesity, patients affected by obesity) in all discussion, resolutions, and reports regarding obesity.

That our AMA encourage the use of preferred terms in discussions, resolutions, and reports regarding patients affected by obesity, including weight and unhealthy weight and discourage the use of stigmatizing terms, including obesity, morbidly obese, and fat.

That our AMA educate health care providers on the importance of patient-first language for treating patients with obesity; equipping their health care facilities with proper sized furniture, medical equipment and gowns for patients with obesity; and having patients weighed respectfully.”

“Current Concepts in Obesity Medicine” Presentation

Dr. Lazarus was invited to present a CME program at the meeting, titled “Current Concepts in Obesity Medicine.” The Obesity Medicine Association provided CME credit to those in attendance. The room was packed! This represented the first-ever educational session on obesity offered at the AMA Annual Meeting.

Obesity Caucus

Dr. Lazarus and Dr. Francavilla again hosted an obesity caucus. Those in attendance included the American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists, The Endocrine Society, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and many others. We discussed current AMA resolutions (including the destigmatizing obesity resolution) and ideas for future resolutions and collaboration. The consensus at the caucus was that education remains one of the most important steps we can take to improve obesity treatment.

Other Resolutions and Topics of Interest

There were several hundred items of business debated by the House of Delegates. Some of interest include:

  1. Obesity Education: Two years ago, Dr. Lazarus and Dr. Francavilla introduced a resolution calling on the AMA to research the state of obesity education in medical schools, identify gaps in education, and report back with tools to fill those gaps. That report was presented and accepted by the AMA. Of note, it states that the level of education in medical schools is quite low and lists the Obesity Medicine Association as the number one resource for education!
  2. Diabetes Self-management Training (DSMT): The Obesity Medicine Association co-sponsored a resolution calling on the AMA to work toward increased access to DSMT by people affected by diabetes.
  3. Strategies to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
  4. Steps the AMA can take to improve the nutritional quality of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  5. Work with hospitals to offer healthier choices.
  6. Work with food banks to offer healthier choices.