A record number of doctors applied for certification to treat obesity this year amid the growing popularity of weight-loss drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy.
Nearly 1,900 doctors signed up for the annual exam in October, the medical board behind the test said, representing a 50 percent increase compared to the previous year.
Passing the exam distinguishes doctors as competent in treating obese patients and could put them on a path to earning higher salaries.
It comes after official data showed that a record 40 percent of adults are now obese in three states (West Virginia, Louisiana and Oklahoma), while all states had seen an increase in rates compared to ago. just a decade.
Prescriptions for weight loss drugs have increased in the US, with five million written last year, a 2,000 percent increase on 2019.
The graph above shows the number of doctors who signed up to take the exam per year.
The map above shows the obesity rate by US state in 2022, the latest data available. The data was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.
Analysts suggest this market will be worth $56 billion by 2030, and doctors who have specialized in obesity medicine will likely be able to charge patients more.
Data from the American Board of Obesity Medicine revealed that a record number of doctors had signed up to take the exam this year.
In 2012, when the accreditation system was created, barely 200 doctors applied.
Healthcare workers do not need the obesity certificate to treat obese patients, but it can make them more competent in caring for patients.
It can also serve as a stepping stone for doctors who enroll in additional training as bariatric surgeons, or for a doctor who has specialized in performing weight loss surgeries, such as a gastric bypass.
This would require an additional one to two years of training on top of the initial four required to become a doctor plus the three to seven year residency.
Bariatric doctors earn about $450,000 a year on average, statistics suggest, compared to $412,000 for general surgeons. In some cases, they can be paid more than $700,000.
The ABOM says doctors are expected to obtain certification in order to become bariatric surgeons.
Modules taught to doctors in the course discuss the causes of the disease and how to help patients lose weight through dietary changes and exercise.
They may also be taught about “pharmacotherapy” to help patients reduce their waistlines, which may include information about popular weight-loss medications.
Dr. Kimberly Gudzune, medical director of ABOM, said Well-informed person: ‘As there is more awareness about obesity as a chronic disease and about all the effective treatment options, patients are going to their doctors and saying, “I want to be treated.”
“And I think that’s often the trigger for a lot of busy practitioners to say, ‘I really need to know how to do this.'”
He added: ‘We are working to address that gap (in obesity knowledge among doctors).
“But it takes time and I think the growth indicates that we need to work in that direction.”
It comes amid growing demand for weight loss drugs such as Ozempic (pictured) and Wegovy.
The above data shows the situation of the previous year. Most US states saw their obesity rates increase compared to previous years.
The obesity rate in the United States has taken off compared to a decade ago, when no state had an obesity rate higher than 35 percent. CDC says it’s an “urgent priority” to address the country’s growing waistline
There are more than one million doctors in the United States, of which nearly 7,000 (or 0.007 percent) are board certified to treat obesity.
Specialization is not necessary to be able to treat obese patients, but it will provide doctors with advanced knowledge.
In addition to their busy schedules, doctors will also need to complete at least 30 hours of lectures and another 30 hours of studying before taking the exam.
Currently, pharmaceutical giants are experiencing a gold rush to capitalize on the nascent weight loss drug market.
Novo Nordisk, which is behind semaglutide used in Wegovy and Ozempic, raised a record $5.5 billion last year after investing in factories to make the drug in the United States.
It is also behind a number of drugs for patients with diabetes and some drugs for patients with hemophilia.
Eli Lilly has also capitalized on the market with its obesity treatment tirzepatide, which is expected to generate $48 billion once approved.
Pfizer, which made billions from its Covid vaccine, is also developing its own class of weight-loss drugs to gain access to the market.