Obesity as a disease: has the AMA resolution had an impact on how physicians view obesity?


Journal Article

BACKGROUND: In 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) passed a resolution characterizing obesity as a disease. It is unclear whether primary care physicians (PCPs) agree with this characterization and how their agreement or lack thereof affects their treatment of patients with obesity. OBJECTIVES: We sought to understand PCP opinions about the AMA obesity resolution and how it has affected management of patients with obesity. SETTING: Small, medium, and large communities in Wisconsin METHODS: Focus groups were conducted with PCPs in Wisconsin. PCPs were asked whether they considered obesity a disease and what they factored into this consideration, including the AMA decision. A directed approach to content analysis was used to analyze the data. A taxonomy of consensus codes was developed, coding summaries were generated, and representative quotes were identified. RESULTS: Three focus groups comprising a total of 16 PCP participants were conducted. Not all PCPs were aware of the AMA resolution. PCPs held divergent opinions on whether obesity represented a disease, primarily focusing their considerations on obesity as a risk factor versus a disease. They also discussed how considering obesity as a disease affects the patient-doctor relationship, insurance coverage, physician reimbursement, and research. CONCLUSION: The AMA resolution did not appear to have made a significant impact on PCP opinions or management practices in our focus groups in Wisconsin. Follow-up surveys that quantify the prevalance of these opinions and practices at the state and national levels would be highly informative.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Funk, LM; Jolles, SA; Voils, CI

Published Date

  • August 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1431 - 1435

PubMed ID

  • 27444860

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27444860

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1878-7533

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.soard.2016.05.009


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States