Obesity is a highly prevalent chronic disease characterized by excessive fat accumulation or distribution that presents a risk to health and requires lifelong care. Virtually every system in the body is affected by obesity. Major chronic diseases associated with obesity include diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The body mass index (weight in kg/height in meters2) is used to screen for obesity, but it does not displace clinical judgment. BMI is not a measure of body fat. Social determinants, race, ethnicity, and age may modify the risk associated with a given BMI.
Bias and stigmatization directed at people with obesity contributes to poor health and impairs treatment.
Every person with obesity should have access to evidence-based treatment.
In 2022, six leading US organizations with a primary focus on obesity came together with the intention of addressing the various roadblocks that they each faced in addressing efforts to improve access to obesity treatment and the reduction of the stigma and bias surrounding this disease. The organizations were: the Obesity Society (TOS), the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA), the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), the Stop Obesity Alliance (STOP), and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AAND).
As part of our discussion, we agreed that it would be beneficial to come to a consensus on the definition of obesity. Our discussions led us to develop the consensus statement below to provide a shared starting point for how we talk about obesity which is consistent with how we discuss other chronic diseases. As the core organizations that address obesity, we worked together to write this statement and have agreed to use it as the central tenet in our communications around obesity.