The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics applauds the American Medical Association's recent decision to support increased patient access to evidence-based, multidisciplinary obesity treatment.
"Obesity is a multifaceted disease that must be treated as such," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Sonja Connor. "It is critical that health care professionals provide our patients with all the tools they need to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Registered dietitian nutritionists know how vital nutrition interventions are to improving the health of patients with obesity, and we recognize that every health specialty plays a key role in effective treatment."
The AMA's patient advocacy efforts will span the full continuum of evidence-based care, including behavioral, pharmaceutical, psychosocial, nutritional and surgical interventions. The AMA's support for coordinated care is consistent with its seminal 2013 recognition of obesity as a disease.
To support multidisciplinary care for obesity patients, the Academy collaborates with numerous organizations as part of the Obesity Care Continuum, including advocating for passage of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act by Congress. The bill, introduced in 2013, has 100 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. It would allow registered dietitian nutritionists to independently provide and be reimbursed for intensive behavioral therapy for Medicare beneficiaries with obesity.
"This promising bipartisan bill would increase vital access and reimbursement for obesity screening and counseling services across disciplines for Medicare patients. Beneficiaries would also gain improved coverage of new prescription drugs for chronic obesity management," Connor said.
"We are proud to say there is significant support in both houses of Congress and in both parties to make sure patients with obesity have access to the treatment they need and deserve," Connor said.
The importance of coordinated care is gaining momentum throughout the health care community. Within the last year, the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and The Obesity Society publicly declared the need for treating the whole patient by leveraging a variety of effective obesity treatment modalities.
"A consensus is developing among medical experts and policy makers that ensuring patients have access to effective, multidisciplinary obesity treatments is critical to their health," Connor said. "The Academy supports the AMA's stance, recognizing the value of coordinated care to treat the whole patient, and we look forward to partnering with the AMA to continue our momentum."
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics