the ABOM story
The American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) was established through the cooperative efforts of the former American Board of Bariatric Medicine (ABBM) and the Certified Obesity Medicine Physician (COMP) steering committee in order to create a single unified certification process. The ABBM was an independent entity that had been administering an examination in obesity medicine since 1997. Formally, the ABOM was established in 2011 to serve the public and the field of obesity medicine by maintaining standards for assessment and credentialing physicians. Certification as an ABOM diplomate signifies specialized knowledge in the practice of obesity medicine and distinguishes a physician as having achieved competency in obesity care. Physicians who complete the ABOM certification process in obesity medicine are designated Diplomates of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. The ABOM administers the Certification Examination for Obesity Medicine Physicians once per year.
National studies have shown that obesity counseling rates remain low among health care professionals. The reasons vary and include time restraints during a busy practice, lack of effective treatment options and practical tools, low confidence or insufficient training in weight management skills and counseling, or concern that raising the topic will be interpreted by the patient as being insensitive. These data suggest that there is an extensive gap between recommended obesity care and current physician practice. To address this need, an increasing number of physicians are devoting a portion of their practice to obesity care.
Recognition of obesity medicine as a subspecialty certification by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) remains the long-term goal for the American Board of Obesity Medicine. While there is no specific timetable for achieving this, all of the requirements for certification that ABOM has in place are aligned with the goal of ABMS recognition. And the growing number of ABOM diplomates is an important factor that clearly illustrates the demand for a certification that allows physicians to demonstrate their competency in obesity medicine. In addition, a separate organization, the Obesity Medicine Fellowship Council, is working toward increasing the number of obesity medicine fellowship opportunities, which is another important benchmark any emerging field needs to meet in order to gain ABMS recognition.