Overweight and obesity compose a chronic disease process of epidemic proportions that presents on a continuum, likely affecting nearly two out of every three patients treated by physician assistants (PAs). However, meaningful and actionable definitions, including but not limited to anthropometric and clinical descriptors, are needed. The effective treatment of overweight and obesity requires an efficient and timely process of screening, diagnosis, evaluation of complications, staging, and clear algorithmic management. PAs are trained as primary care providers and can diagnose and treat overweight and obese patients regardless of practice setting and across the spectrum of the disease and patient's age.
Lawrence Herman is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, N.Y. He is the chair of the AAPA Overweight and Obesity Task Force. John G. McGinnity is program director and clinical associate professor at the Department of Healthcare Sciences PA Program at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. Michael Doll is the chief physician assistant in the cardiothoracic surgery service at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa. Eric D. Peterson is a fellow of the Alliance for Continuing Education and a certified continuing healthcare development professional. Amanda Russell practices orthopedics at OrthoVirginia in Midlothian, Va. At the time this article was written, Joseph Largay was a clinical instructor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and practiced in the outpatient clinic of the Diabetes Care Center. He has since joined AstraZeneca as a full-time employee. Mr. Herman discloses that he is a consultant for Boehringer Ingelheim, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi Aventis. Mr. Largay discloses that he is a consultant for AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Takeda, and Vivus; and receives grants and research funding from Amylin, Andromeda, Boehringer Ingelheim, GI Dynamics, Halozyme, Hoffmann-LaRoche, Immune Tolerance Network, Jaeb Center For Health Research Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Lexicon, Lilly, Medtronic, Merck, Novo-Nordisk, Orexigen, Phase Bio, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Sanofi Aventis, and Tolerx. The other authors disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.