Obesity Prevention and Treatment

Overview of Obesity Prevention and Treatment

The AAFP supports policies to reduce rates of overweight and obesity as matter of public health. Adult obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980, and today exceed 30 percent; over the same time period, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled.

The implications of these trends are alarming. Obesity represents a major risk factor for a variety of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, specific cancers, and arthritis. If the number of obese Americans continues to increase at current rates, half of all Americans will be obese by 2020, and obesity-related medical expenses will reach $344 billion, approximately 21 percent of all health care spending.

Reversing this epidemic will require a cooperative, multi-pronged strategies that address the support practice level prevention and interventions. Family physicians can play an important role by providing dietary and exercise counseling, and by educating patients about the health risks that obesity triggers. They can also serve as advocates for structural reforms such as increasing community safety, building walkways/sidewalks, and improving access to healthful foods.

The AAFP also works with state and federal agencies and others to develop sustainable strategies for fostering healthier lifestyles for all Americans through the following activities:

  • Joined the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity;
  • Supported Farm Bill reauthorization proposals to increase nutrition education and healthful food access for participants in hunger programs;
  • Shared expert commentary on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans;
  • Supported Medicare coverage for obesity screening and counseling; and
  • Opposed policies that may increase food insecurity.

Recent AAFP Communications

Joint Communications with Other Organizations

Joint Letter to Congress from the CDC Coalition on FY2020 - March 4, 2019(7 page PDF)

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