Clearing the Bar

Setting a Higher Bar for Obesity Care

Until recently, the bar has been very low for obesity care in most of healthcare. “Instruct the patient to lose weight” is the most common guidance. However, three new publications in Obesity make it clear how much that’s changing. It’s clear that healthcare is setting a higher bar for obesity care.

A Proposed Standard for Providers and Payers

Setting a higher bar for both providers and payers is a daunting challenge. But that’s exactly what William Dietz and Christine Gallagher are attempting. “Our goal was to develop a practical, tangible, measurable and simple standard of care,” said Dietz.

They’ve indeed kept it simple: eight core principles, seven standards for all providers, and nine standards for clinical providers. This proposed standard is for providing adult care. Pediatric care is an important challenge for another day.

It’s starting place, developed by the STOP Obesity Alliance at the George Washington University. Much work remains before this proposed standard becomes a de facto standard. Nevertheless, this is an important step for setting the bar higher.

Medical Education

Next, we have a summary of work by the Obesity Medical Education Collaborative (OMEC) to develop competencies to guide both undergraduate and graduate medical education programs. A total of 36 group members agreed on 32 competencies across six domains. Taken together, this work provides the first yardstick for how well medical education is preparing health professionals to care for people with the most prevalent chronic disease in the U.S. – obesity.

Robert Kushner led this process and tells us that it has potential to improve patient care in the treatment of obesity. If anything, he’s understating the value of this work.

Landmark Work

Commenting on these two papers, Tim Garvey calls them “landmarks that will impel the evolution of healthcare for patients with obesity.” He expresses hope that they will spur reformation of healthcare systems for obesity care and medical education. He says, and we fully agree:

These are critical steps in the evolution of a comprehensive care model for obesity treatment and prevention. Much hangs in the balance.

Click here for the Dietz paper, here for the Kushner paper, and here for the Garvey commentary.

Clearing the Bar, photograph © Sangudo / flickr

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June 25, 2019

One Response to “Setting a Higher Bar for Obesity Care”

  1. June 26, 2019 at 10:11 am, Allen Browne said:

    Very useful papers – thanks.