The American Board of Obesity Medicine: An Overview

| January 22, 2014

Medical Methods in Obesity Treatment

This column is dedicated to providing information on the medical management of obesity, which includes diet, exercise, behavioral change, and medication.

Column Editors: Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, Medical Bariatrician/Certified Medical Obesity Specialist/Co-Medical Director, Scottsdale Weight Loss Center PLLC, Scottsdale, Arizona; and Wendy Scinta, MD, MS, FAAFP, Medical Director, Medical Weight Loss of NY, BOUNCE Program for Childhood Obesity, Fayetteville, New York; Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York

This Month: The American Board of Obesity Medicine: An Overview

by Robert F. Kushner, MD, and Dana Brittan, MBA

Funding: No funding was provided.

Financial disclosures: The authors report no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article.

Bariatric Times. 2014;11(1):18–19.

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 through the establishment and maintenance of criteria and procedures for examination and certification of candidate physicians who seek recognition of their accomplishments in obesity medicine. Physicians who complete the ABOM certification process in obesity medicine are designated Diplomates of the ABOM.

According to the ABOM, an obesity medicine physician comprises the following criteria:
•    Is an expert in the sub-specialty of obesity medicine. This sub-specialty requires competency in and a thorough understanding of the treatment of obesity and the genetic, biologic, environmental, social, and behavioral factors that contribute to obesity.
•    Employs therapeutic interventions, including diet, physical activity, behavioral change, and pharmacotherapy.
•    Utilizes a comprehensive approach, and may include additional resources, such as nutritionists, exercise physiologists, psychologists, and bariatric surgeons as indicated to achieve optimal results.
•    Maintains competency in providing pre-, peri-, and post-surgical care of bariatric surgery patients; promotes the prevention of obesity; and advocates for those who suffer from obesity.

A major challenge facing medical educators today is adequately training current and future physicians in the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses. Obesity is one example. Overweight and obesity combined affect two-thirds of adults and one-third of children and adolescents in the United States.[1,2] National studies have shown that obesity counseling rates remain low among healthcare professionals.[3] The reasons vary and include the following: 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 significant portion of their practice to obesity care. ABOM Diplomates have achieved a higher level of competency and understanding in the treatment of obesity by undertaking specialized education and meeting rigorous qualification and assessment requirements.

The ABOM comprises 12 board members, representing primary specialty boards from internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and surgery.

The written exam is a half-day exam comprising 250 questions designed to assess the knowledge base and the cognitive and deductive skills of candidates.

Physicians must meet eligibility requirements in order to sit for the ABOM Certification Examination for Obesity Medicine Physicians. There are two pathways to eligibility: with or without fellowship.

Post-Fellowship Qualifications for Certification
•    A copy of each of the state, province, or jurisdictional licenses in which the applicant currently practices medicine
•    Proof of completion of US or Canadian medical residency
•    Active board certification in an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member board or osteopathic medicine equivalent
•    Successful completion of an on-site clinical fellowship with an obesity component where the fellowship director attests to at least 500 hours on the topic of obesity or obesity-related conditions

Qualifications for Certification without Fellowship
•    A copy of each of the state, province, or jurisdictional licenses in which the applicant currently practices medicine.
•    Proof of completion of US or Canadian medical residency
•    Active board certification in an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member board or osteopathic medicine equivalent
•    A minimum of 60 credit hours of continuing medical education (CME) recognized by the American Medical Association Physician Recognition Award (AMA PRA) Category 1 Credits on the topic of obesity

The 2014 Certification Examination for Obesity Medicine Physicians will be administered December 6 through 13, 2014, at computer-based testing centers throughout the United States and Canada. Dates of interest are as follows:
•    July 21, 2014—Early Application Deadline
Fee: $1,500.00
•    September 15, 2014—Application Deadline
Fee: $1,750.00

Visit http://abom.org/how-to-apply/policies-procedures/ to download the examination policies and procedures

The following societies and organizations are supporting partners with the ABOM and provide endorsement and educational activities to their respective members:
•    American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
•    American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
•    American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)
•    American Heart Association (AHA)
•    American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)
•    American Society for Nutrition (ASN)
•    American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN)
•    American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP)
•    Canadian Obesity Network – Réseau canadien en obésité (CON-RCO)
•    STOP Obesity Alliance
•    The Cardiometabolic Health Congress (CMHC)
•    The Endocrine Society (ENDO)
•    The Harvard Medical School Department of Continuing Education
•    The Obesity Society (TOS)

References
1.    Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity and trends in the distribution of body mass index among US Adults, 1999–2010. JAMA. 2012;307:491–497.
2.    Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999–2010. JAMA. 2012;307:483–490.
3.    Kraschnewski JL, Sciamana CN, Stuckey HL, et al. A silent response to the obesity epidemic. Decline in US physician weight counseling. Med Care. 2013;51:186-192

Category: Medical Methods in Obesity Treatment, Past Articles

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