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Obesity Medicine Association, Obesity Action Coalition and Found launch of Obesity Medicine Scholarship

Found, one of the largest medically-assisted weight loss programmes in the US, is partnering with the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) to launch the OMA and OAC Obesity Medicine Scholarship programme. The programme will help ensure there are more obesity medicine experts to provide care to those in need by offering resources to medical providers interested in becoming American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) certified. Funded by Found, a US$5,000 scholarship will be awarded to two physicians to cover ABOM registration fees to take the certification exam, a one-year membership to the OMA, registration to attend the OMA Annual Conference and the Review Course for the ABOM Exam in April 2024, and a travel stipend.

Angela Fitch (Credit: Obesity Medicine Association (OMA))

"There is a growing disconnect between the number of people living with obesity and the number of providers trained to manage it," said OMA Board President Angela Fitch. "The scholarship programme is our collective commitment to solving this problem by providing a viable pathway for physicians to become certified in obesity medicine so we can improve access to and the quality of obesity care in the US."

More than 100 million adults in America are living with obesity, yet only 1% of providers are trained in obesity medicine, creating a cycle of biases and misunderstandings that prevent any progress. When people try to seek help from their healthcare providers, they can be met with judgment, dismissiveness, or unfounded assumptions that their weight is the result of a willpower deficit. This environment makes it challenging for patients to receive the support they need and may encourage patients to consult non-expert sources for medical guidance, medication information, and prescriptions. Through this joint effort, Found is helping equip more physicians to seek specialized obesity medicine training to ensure that there are more obesity specialists available to serve underrepresented communities and improve health equity.

Obesity medicine is a multidisciplinary field that involves a range of approaches, including lifestyle modification, medication/pharmacology, talk therapy and surgery, to help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight. While a record 1,889 physicians applied to take the 2023 ABOM certification exam, it is still not enough to care for and provide support for millions of adults living with obesity. The Obesity Medicine Scholarship program aims to bridge the gap by removing the financial barrier of taking the exam.

"Without proper training in obesity medicine, it's easy to overlook the inequities that perpetuate the problem," said Kristal Hartman, OAC Chair. "This scholarship programme will help us address the supply and demand of patients to providers, but, just as important, it will educate those providers on the disparities and inequities that contribute to obesity being the most prevalent chronic condition in the US, so they can start to understand and care for the whole person."

"I'm proud to be one of the creators of the American Board of Obesity Medicine exam, and this scholarship fund is one step closer to closing the care gap that is growing in obesity medicine," said Dr. Rekha Kumar, Found's Chief Medical Officer and former Medical Director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. "Found believes everyone should have access to personalized, quality weight care, and by backing the OMA and OAC Obesity Medicine Scholarship program, we will help ensure that there are more providers trained to care for the millions of Americans struggling with obesity and overweight."

Applications will be accepted until March 15 2024, and scholarship winners will be announced on March 29 2024. To apply for the OMA and OAC Obesity Medicine Scholarship, physicians can apply here


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