For years we've been taught that the key to losing weight is "just calories in vs calories out." Unfortunately, this misinformation has only contributed to making people who struggle with their weight feel judged and blamed. As the Obesity Society Infographic above shows, there are over seventy contributors to abnormal accumulation of body fat (obesity). It's especially important that healthcare professionals recognize the complexity of obesity and tailor treatment to the individual in a non-judgmental way just as we would any other medical condition. It is also critical for individuals and professionals treating obesity to know that people are not their medical condition. People are NOT obese. They have obesity but that does not encompass all they are. Obesity is not a personal choice; it is a complex disease that is impacted by multiple factors including genetic predisposition, environment, and socioeconomic status.
According to the CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, all states have an obesity rate of at least 20%. That means at least 1 in 5 people will have a BMI > 30. A BMI > 30 is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and many other medical complications. With more than two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese, it is predicted that at least 42% of Americans will be obese by 2030. It is critical we work now to prevent and treat obesity from a multi-system approach. Currently, there are multiple organizations working to combat the Obesity Epidemic. The purpose of this page is to consolidate their efforts for interested individuals such as patients, clinicians, and researchers. Together let's decrease America's weight!
Weight is Complicated
The table above was taken from Chapter 17: Where can I turn for trusted obesity information?" the chapter Dr. Bollie wrote for
Resources for Primary Care Clinicians
Many people will start their weight journey by seeking help from their primary care clinician.
Having practiced primary care for over 7 years prior to becoming an obesity specialist and wellness coach, I know first hand it is useful to have tools to help with weight management in the primary care setting. The "Weight Can't Wait" Guide is a handy, time sensitive guide that can be used in primary care (See below).
My personal tips are:
1. Schedule appointments only to discuss weight management. Insurance based practices can use Medicare billing codes for Medicare patients or non-Medicare codes for patients not insured by Medicare. Please note these are general guidelines. I recommend you check with your practice's billing specialist to verify coverage.
2. Set expectations at the first appointment about expected weight loss and frequency of appointments. Use the Weight Can't Weight Guide.
3. Since obesity is so complex, it is useful to refer patient to an obesity specialist if that is willing to partner with you to optimize patient's care. Dr. Bollie and the Embrace You Weight & Wellness program is always available to you and your patients globally through virtual visits. However if your patient desires in person appointments you can use the Obesity Medical Association clinician finder to find a clinician near you.
Gallagher, C., Corl, A. and Dietz, W.H. (2021), Weight Can’t Wait: A Guide to Discussing Obesity and Organizing Treatment in the Primary Care Setting. Obesity, 29: 821-824. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.23154