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AACE/ACE Publishes Position Statement on Obesity as a Disease with New Framework for Diagnosis

Updated: 8/14/21 8:00 amPublished: 10/27/14

Twitter summary: AACE/ACE publish position statement on obesity w/ 4 step plan: screen, examine, evaluate, treat/prevent! Kudos 4 focus on proactive diagnosis

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE) and the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) recently published a joint position statement on obesity that supports the classification of obesity as a disease. The statement stems from a Consensus Conference on Obesity that took place in March, which brought together a wide range of stakeholders vested in the problem of obesity including health professionals, policy makers and regulators, health care payers, educators, employers, and pharma. The statement’s highlight is its step-by-step plan for diagnosing obesity and determining the appropriate treatment plan.

This method provides a more detailed and accurate way of diagnosing obesity compared to current standards that rely only on body mass index, or BMI (a ratio of weight to height; see a BMI calculator here). Currently, obesity is simply defined as a BMI of 30 or above, which often doesn’t truly reflect how healthy someone is. The new AACE/ACE method takes many different components (e.g. a physical examination, a review of symptoms, lab results, etc.) into consideration before making a diagnosis of obesity. Patients are placed into stages that more accurately reflect the personal health risks associated with the severity of their obesity. Most importantly, this method gives people actionable steps to take after receiving a diagnosis – though we’re curious to see what those steps will specifically look like once they are hammered out in more detail!

This statement will undergo more revisions before it is implemented in real-world practice. However, it is a solid first step towards proactively diagnosing obesity, which for too long has only relied on BMI. We hope that it leads to reimbursement for obesity treatments down the road, as more people begin to consider obesity as a chronic illness that brings significant health risks. –AJW/MA

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