The American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) announced that more than 720 physicians passed its board certification test administered in February 2019. The number of physicians who are board-certified in obesity medicine now exceeds 3,370 in the United States and Canada. A record 726 examinees passed the ABOM exam, establishing obesity medicine as one of the fastest growing fields in medicine. This represents a 27% increase in the total number of ABOM diplomats compared to the previous year.
Year Number of ABOM Diplomats
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects nearly 40% of the United States adults and is associated with higher risks for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and other musculoskeletal and vascular problems. Obesity has been officially recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association since 2013 and most doctors want to help patients lose weight. However, physicians often have little or no training in weight management and nutrition and are unfamiliar with appropriate management and treatment guidelines.
“The growth of obesity medicine board certification mirrors the rise in interest among physicians seeking a more evidence-based approach to treating patients coping with obesity,” said Dana Brittan, ABOM executive director.
According to Dr. Rekha Kumar, medical director for ABOM, board certification sends a strong signal to patients and referring physicians in the community that the diplomat is prepared to help address the complex challenges that obesity presents.
Many physicians are more comfortable treating the problems caused by obesity rather than the disease itself. However, Dr. Kumar said the increase in the number of physicians and specialties achieving ABOM diplomat status demonstrates significant interest from the medical community in understanding effective treatment options and practical tools for obesity and weight management.
“ABOM certification has the potential to add value to hospitals and other medical institutions that want to demonstrate the knowledge and expertise their staff contributes to patient care and research,” Kumar said.
“ABOM diplomats come from a wide spectrum of medical disciplines and specialists, with primary care specialties comprising the largest number of diplomats,” said Dr. John Cleek, ABOM board chairman. “The strong showing from the primary care community is promising because PCPs are often in the best position to treat obesity,” said Dr. Cleek
The 726 physicians who passed the most recent ABOM certification exam include internists, family physicians, endocrinologists, pediatricians, surgeons, obstetricians and gynecologists, and gastroenterologists, along with numerous other specialists.
Certification as an ABOM diplomat signifies specialized knowledge in the practice of obesity medicine and distinguishes a physician as having achieved competency in obesity care, with ABOM diplomats incorporating obesity medicine into their everyday practices or devoting themselves full-time to the treatment of obesity. The number of first-time ABOM certificates issued annually now exceeds those of other fields, such as infectious disease, endocrinology, and rheumatology.