NUMBER OF ABOM DIPLOMATES

tops 8,000 in US and Canada

The American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) today announced that 1,567 physicians passed its board certification test administered in October 2023, bringing the current number of physicians who are certified in obesity medicine to 8,263 in the United States and Canada.

The 1,539 new Diplomates who passed the most recent exam join the 955 ABOM Diplomates who earned first-time board certification status in January 2023. Overall, the total number of obesity medicine physicians grew by 40 percent from 2022 to 2023.

Year

Number of ABOM Diplomates

2023*

8,263

2022

5,881

2021

5,242

2020

4,102

2019

3,377

2018

2,656

*Includes both classes of ABOM Diplomates announced in January 2023 and December 2023.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects over 40 percent of U.S. adults and increases the risks for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and musculoskeletal problems. Obesity has been officially recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association since 2013, and many doctors want to help patients lose weight and improve health. However, physicians often graduate from medical school and residency programs with little or no training in weight management and nutrition – they are unfamiliar with treatment guidelines and have low confidence in their ability to treat obesity.

“The growth of obesity medicine board certification mirrors the rise in interest among physicians seeking a more evidence-based approach to treating patients with obesity,” said Dr. Judith Korner, MD PhD, Chair of the ABOM Board of Directors.

According to Dr. Kimberly Gudzune, MD MPH, ABOM Medical Director, board certification sends a strong signal to both patients and referring physicians that the Diplomate is prepared to partner with patients in addressing the complex challenges that obesity presents.

Dr. Gudzune also noted that new anti-obesity medications can demand an enhanced level of sophistication and training.

“In the past, many doctors prioritized treating the problems caused by obesity rather than the disease itself. This attitude may stem, in part, from pessimism toward the effectiveness of older treatment options. Now with the advent of highly effective anti-obesity medications, doctors are seeking certification to understand how to use these new tools,” said Dr. Gudzune. “Through the certification process, they also learn the complexity of the disease of obesity as well as comprehensive strategies for treatment.”

ABOM Diplomates come from a wide spectrum of medical disciplines and specialties with primary care physicians comprising the largest number of Diplomates, said Dr. Korner.

 “The strong showing from the primary care community is promising because primary care physicians are often in the best position to treat obesity,” Dr. Korner said.

The 1,539 new Diplomates who passed the most recent ABOM certification exam include internists (561), family physicians (462), pediatricians/pediatric subspecialists (106), endocrinologists (75), surgeons (69), obstetricians/gynecologists (44), and gastroenterologists (39), along with numerous other specialists.

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, with ABOM Diplomates incorporating obesity medicine into their everyday practices or devoting themselves full time to the treatment of obesity. The number of first-time ABOM certificates issued annually now exceeds those of other fields such as cardiology, pulmonary disease, and medical oncology.

The next obesity medicine certification exam will be administered October 14-26, 2024.

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