Barometer Change Fair

Forget Bariatrics, Obesity Medicine Is the Thing

The American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) announced this week that they will change their name to the Obesity Medicine Association on October 2 this year. The society is making the change “to better align with the widespread recognition of obesity as a chronic disease among health care professionals.”

Oddly enough, this name change completes a full circle of nomenclature for the society. Its first meeting in 1950 identified the group as “the National Obesity Society in Denver.” Later that year, a constitution, bylaws, and incorporation in the state of Colorado were completed using the the National Glandular Society for the society’s name. When Raymond E. Dietz, one of the society’s early leaders, coined the term “bariatrics” in 1961, the society changed its name to the American Society of Bariatrics. In 1972, the name changed to the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.

Bariatrics is a term derived from “bari” in Greek and Hebrew, which can refer to pressure, weight, fatness, or robust good health. Though it was coined to be the name of a new branch of medicine, “bariatric” enjoys wider use as an adjective to describe bariatric supplies (to accommodate people with obesity) or bariatric surgery.

The decision to create the American Board of Obesity Medicine in 2010, replacing the American Board of Bariatric Medicine, probably made the name change for ASBP inevitable.

So it is that we will have four major U.S. organizations with obesity at the core of their identity: the Obesity Medicine Association, the Obesity Society, the American Board of Obesity Medicine, and the Obesity Action Coalition. Each has a different role and much work to do.

Click here for the press release from ASBP and here for more on the origins of the term “bariatric.”

Barometer Change Fair, photograph © Adrian Scottow / flickr

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August 1, 2015