All people with overweight and obesity have the right to receive obesity care that is personalized, reflects their cultural beliefs, meets their specific health goals and considers their whole health, not just their weight status.
Because obesity is a complex chronic disease, individuals with obesity are entitled to
the same best standards of care as those with other chronic conditions. This necessitates the expertise and services of a range of health providers working to provide coordinated care. As such, people with obesity have the right to:
- Demand that caregivers, family members or friends are included in consultations with the lead clinician and care team.
- Choose an interprofessional care team with expertise in obesity care to provide care coordination, counseling and treatment. Optimally, the care team comprises a physician or physician assistant, a nurse or nurse practitioner, and a dietitian or related specialist who provides direct counseling and patient support. Other team members can include an exercise physiologist, social scientist and mental health specialist.
- Agree on a personalized care plan prior to the start of treatment that lays out the roadmap for ongoing obesity care. Included in the plan are regular medical appointments; physical activity and behavior modification interventions; use of evidence-based treatment options such as anti-obesity medications and bariatric surgery when appropriate; and long-term assessment and follow-up.
- Have questions answered by the care team in a timely manner.
- Be informed that commonly prescribed drugs taken for health problems other than obesity – such as beta blockers, contraceptives and antidepressants – may work differently because obesity affects the activity of these drugs. In some situations, this can lead to underdosing and ineffective treatment. In other cases, concentrations of the drug may stay significantly longer in the body with the potential for adverse effects.
- Receive considerate, respectful and compassionate care in a safe setting.
- Have access to and insurance coverage for a health educator trained in obesity management as a key part of the care team. Currently, a national network of diabetes care and education specialists works with patients to set and achieve behavior change and medication management goals. The same types of health professionals could be trained quickly to play this role for adults with obesity.
- Voice a complaint and ask for changes to the care team or treatment plan without fear and interruption of care.
- Make a formal complaint to a local or state governing board of a health professional exhibits bad behavior or engages in discriminatory practices associated with weight bias.