First Responder

AMA Stands for Respecting Patients with Obesity

Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association House of Delegates, AMA stood up for respecting patients with obesity. AMA resolved to encourage respectful language and respectful accommodations in patient care for people with obesity.

Obesity Action Coalition President and CEO Joe Nadglowski praised this action, saying:

This news is important. AMA has now moved beyond merely accepting that obesity is a complex chronic disease. This policy encourages physicians to grant the same respect to people with obesity as they would to any other patients. For our members, this will be a big step forward.

Here is the text of the resolution:

RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association encourage the use of person-first language (patients with obesity, patients affected by obesity) in all discussions, resolutions and reports regarding obesity (New HOD Policy); and be it further

RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association 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 obese, morbidly obese, and fat. (New HOD Policy); and be it further

RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association 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 (New HOD Policy).

Are we turning away from an embarrassing history of disrespecting, shaming, and blaming people with obesity? Thankfully, yes. Some providers will be slow to change. They will be left behind. Every person and every patient deserves respect and dignity.

Click here to read more about this resolution and here to read more about reducing implicit bias in healthcare.

First Responder, photograph © Obesity Action Coalition / OAC Image Gallery

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June 14, 2017

7 Responses to “AMA Stands for Respecting Patients with Obesity”

  1. June 14, 2017 at 6:21 am, Joe Gitchell said:

    Good on the AMA for this. Here’s to hoping that they will be willing to listen to Amy Faith Ho, MD, on nicotine.

    See for more details and my disclosure below.

    Thanks, Ted–keep it up!


    My employer, PinneyAssociates, provides consulting services on tobacco harm minimization (including nicotine replacement therapy and vapor products) to Niconovum USA, RJ Reynolds Vapor Company, and RAI Services Company, all subsidiaries of Reynolds American Inc. In the past three years, PinneyAssociates has consulted to NJOY on electronic cigarettes. I also own an interest in intellectual property for a novel nicotine medication.

    • June 14, 2017 at 6:54 am, Ted said:

      Thanks, Joe.

  2. June 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm, Marty Enokson said:

    Thank you Joe and Ted for all the incredible work that you do. This is amazing news and will certainly help to assist in changing the conversation up in Canada. Bravo guys.

    Please keep up the amazing work.


    • June 15, 2017 at 3:59 am, Ted said:

      You’re doing quite a bit yourself, Marty. Keep it going!

  3. June 18, 2017 at 11:31 am, Ethan Lazarus said:

    Yes – thank you so much for posting. This is a policy I wrote and submitted on behalf of the OMA (Obesity Medicine Association). We got several cosponsors including Colorado, Endocrine and Minority Affairs. There was a lot of discussion – all positive. The feeling at the AMA is that they want to help in any way to improve obesity care, and recognized that using non-stigmatizing terms could really help. Thanks!

    • June 18, 2017 at 12:46 pm, Ted said:

      Kudos, especially to you, Ethan, for your tireless work to build broad understanding of obesity as a complex, chronic disease that appears in many different forms. You have prompted tremendous progress. Thank you!

  4. June 21, 2017 at 11:38 am, Allen Browne said: