Challenges in Obesity: Reducing the Burden Through Population Health Management

A priority for AAPA

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) believes that PAs are in a position to become leaders in obesity medicine because they work across specialties and therefore, have many opportunities to interact and possibly intervene with patients affected with weight management issues.

That is also why we recently developed Obesity Leadership Edge, a new online curriculum that covers basic education for the diagnosis and treatment of obesity and provides PAs with the skills they need to effectively communicate about weight with their patients. The series of 7 modules, which is available to PAs for continuing medical education credit, was developed referencing evidence-based methods of the Chronic Care Model

In addition to the online curriculum, AAPA supported the formation of a Special Interest Group (SIG) in Obesity Medicine, PAs in Obesity Medicine. The group aims to provide a resource for PAs to connect with others knowledgeable and interested in obesity medicine.

AAPA also sponsors National Obesity Care Week activities with partners including: Obesity Medicine Association (OMA); American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP); the Obesity Society (TOS); and American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

The road ahead

Moving forward, recognition that obesity is a chronic, progressive disease and continued communication on prevention and treatment are paramount to reversing the status quo. Obesity affects too many people for us to stay silent. As healthcare providers, we have a responsibility to talk to our patients about how to continually improve their health — regardless of our specialties. Furthermore, as a society, we should feel compelled to reverse the obesity epidemic.

For more information on obesity in the United States, visit the CDC’s website.

L. Gail Curtis, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, is president and chair of AAPA and chair and associate professor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine’s Department of PA Studies.

Related Articles


  1. Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2015-2016. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published October, 2017. Accessed October 27, 2017.
  2. The healthcare costs of obesity. The State of Obesity. Accessed October 27, 2017. 
  3. Population health management. TechTarget. Accessed October 27, 2017.
  4.  Disease of obesity. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Accessed October 27, 2017.
  5.  Kraschnewski JL, Sciamanna CN, Stuckey HL, et al. A silent response to the obesity epidemic: decline in US physician weight counseling. Med Care. 2013;51(2):186-192.
  6.  Jay M, Gillespie C, Schlair S, Sherman S, Kalet A. Physicians’ use of the 5As in counseling obese patients: is the quality of counseling associated with patients’ motivation and intention to lose weight? BMC Health Serv Res. 2010;10:159.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor