Obesity is a condition of excess weight due to too much body fat. According to statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 percent of adults and 17 percent of children and teens in the United States are obese.
Obesity is usually caused by taking in more calories than you use, but genetics can also be a factor. It is not a disease itself—it is a condition that can increase a person’s risk for other health problems, including:
- Heart attack
- Type 2 diabetes
- Breathing problems
- Some types of cancer
Doctors Who Treat Obesity
Obese patients are usually evaluated initially by doctors who provide their regular care. They include:
- Internist or Family Physician: Doctors who provide general medical care for adults. An internist or family physician typically diagnoses adults who are obese and can manage their weight loss program.
- Pediatrician: Doctor who specializes in the medical care of children. A pediatrician typically diagnoses children who are obese and can manage their weight loss program.
You may need to see a specialist if complications related to obesity develop, or if your regular doctor’s treatment plan is ineffective or too hard to follow. These providers include:
- Endocrinologist: Doctor who specializes in the endocrine system. An obese person may be referred to an endocrinologist for treatment of type 2 diabetes or a hormone problem related to weight gain, such as an underactive thyroid.
- Bariatric Surgeon: A doctor who performs weight loss surgeries, such as those that reduce the size of the stomach. These surgeries can help some very obese people lose weight.
- Psychiatrist: A doctor who specializes in mental health. An obese patient may be referred to a psychiatrist for treatment of mental health issues, such as depression and stress, which may be related to obesity.
- Psychologist:A therapist with an advanced degree in the study of the brain and behavior. An obese patient may be referred to a psychologist for therapy or counseling for mental health issues, such as depression and stress, which may be related to obesity.
- Registered Dietitian: A nutrition professional who has passed a national exam to become certified. Dietitians work with obese people on ways to change their eating habits so that they can lose weight.
Exercise Physiologist: Trained and certified exercise professionals who evaluate a person’s level of fitness and teach people new exercise programs. Exercise physiologists can help obese people lose weight by teaching them exercises that are appropriate for their fitness level.