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Provider Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Obesity

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.

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Top-Line Competencies

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of obesity as a disease.

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the epidemiology of the obesity epidemic.

  • Describe the disparate burden of obesity and approaches to mitigate it.

  • Describe the benefits of working interprofessionally to address obesity to achieve results that cannot be achieved by a single health professional.

  • Apply the skills necessary for effective interprofessional collaboration and integration of clinical and community care for obesity.

  • Use patient-centered communication when working with individuals with obesity and others.

  • Employ strategies to minimize bias towards and discrimination against people with obesity, including weight, body habitus, and the causes of obesity.

  • Implement a range of accommodations and safety measures specific to people with obesity.

  • Utilize evidence-based care/services for persons with obesity or at risk for obesity.

  • Provide evidence-based care/services for persons with obesity comorbidities.

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