More than one-third of U.S. adults have obesity, with obesity care costing as much as $210 billion per year. Nonetheless, few health professionals and trainees receive training in the prevention and management of obesity. For example, fewer than 30 percent of medical schools meet the minimum hours of nutrition education recommended by the National Research Council, and fewer than one-fourth of physicians report feeling adequately trained to counsel their patients on healthy eating or physical activity. While some innovative schools and training programs in some disciplines have prioritized obesity education, no attempts have been made to standardize the minimum level of obesity-related education and training that health professionals should receive.
To fill that critical gap, the Provider Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Obesity were designed by more than 20 leading health organizations representing a dozen health professions. They are aimed at many types of health professionals engaged in obesity prevention and management. Collectively, the competencies establish a working knowledge of obesity, and are therefore best used together. Recognizing that the depth of knowledge or skill for a given competency will vary based on specialty, each specialty is encouraged to adapt these competencies to fit their needs.
1. Demonstrate a working knowledge of obesity as a disease.
2. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the epidemiology of the obesity epidemic.
3. Describe the disparate burden of obesity and approaches to mitigate it.
4. Describe the benefits of working interprofessionally to address obesity to achieve results that cannot be achieved by a single health professional.
5. Apply the skills necessary for effective interprofessional collaboration and integration of clinical and community care for obesity.
6. Use patient-centered communication when working with individuals with obesity and others.
7. Employ strategies to minimize bias towards and discrimination against people with obesity, including weight, body habitus, and the causes of obesity.
8. Implement a range of accommodations and safety measures specific to people with obesity.
9. Utilize evidence-based care/services for persons with obesity or at risk for obesity.
10. Provide evidence-based care/services for persons with obesity comorbidities.
Competency Development Leadership
The Provider Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Obesity were developed by the Provider Training and Education Workgroup of the Integrated Clinical and Social Systems for the Prevention and Management of Obesity Innovation Collaborative, an ad hoc activity associated with the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The responsibility for the content rests with the Innovation Collaborative and not with the National Academies.
Don Bradley, M.D., MHS-CL
William Dietz, M.D., Ph.D.
George Washington University
Workgroup Participant Organizations
- Academy for Eating Disorders
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
- American Board of Obesity Medicine
- American Council of Academic Physical Therapy
- American Dental Education Association
- American Kinesiology Association
Workgroup Participant Organizations
- American Psychological Association
- Association for Prevention Teaching and Research
- Association of American Medical Colleges
- Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- Interprofessional Education Collaborative
- National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties
- Physician Assistant Education Association
- Society for Public Health Education
- Society of Teachers of Family Medicine
- The Obesity Society
- YMCA of the USA
The development of the competencies was supported by leadership from the following organizations:
Support for the development of these competencies was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The competencies do not necessarily represent the views of any one organization, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Collaborative, the Roundtable, or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and have not been subjected to the review procedures of, nor are they a report of, the National Academies.
My Healthy Weight
My Healthy Weight is the first-ever collective initiative offering obesity prevention and treatment for individuals of all ages. The initiative will provide millions of individuals nationally with consistent coverage to support healthy weight change. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Bipartisan Policy Center developed this public-private initiative with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.