ACG Obesity Initiative

Obesity: A Growing and Dangerous Public Health Challenge

Why Obesity?

The American College of Gastroenterology recognizes that the epidemic of obesity is a problem at the forefront of American public health concerns and considers it imperative that GI physicians engage in efforts to define new treatment options, refine existing approaches and enhance the management of associated complications. The growing epidemic of obesity is of particular relevance to gastroenterologists because of the clearly documented associations of obesity with a number of gastrointestinal disease risk factors and outcomes, including mortality rates and unfavorable risk profiles.

Why ACG and Obesity?

With a new appreciation for obesity as a disease and global well-being in mind, the American College of Gastroenterology has developed new tools to help physicians incorporate patient education on the GI risks of overweight and obesity. The College’s primary objective in encouraging an enhanced focus on nutrition, metabolism and obesity is to bring the clinical and scientific expertise of GI physicians to bear in formulating solutions to the obesity epidemic – both at the national health policy level and in terms of advancing clinical practice.

The College invited a distinguished Task Force on Obesity to develop materials for both GI physicians and their patients. The College is grateful to the following physicians for their leadership and contributions to the work of the Obesity Task Force:

Carol A. Burke, MD, FACG, Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Michael R. Charlton, MD, Mayo College of Medicine
Amy E. Foxx-Orenstein, DO, FACG, Mayo College of Medicine
Hashem B. El-Serag, MD, FACG, Baylor College of Medicine
Lisa Ganjhu, DO, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital
David A. Greenwald, MD, FACG, Montefiore Medical Center
David A. Johnson, MD, FACG, Eastern Virginia Medical School
Joel E. Lavine, MD, PhD, UC San Diego, Dept. Pediatric GI
Philip R. Schauer, MD, Cleveland Clinic Foundation


Physician & Patient Education Resources


For Physicians: ACG Briefing Paper on Obesity for Gastrointestinal Specialists – A Resource Guide
For GI Physicians: Obesity and Digestive Disorders: A Physician Reference
For GI Physicians: Tips for Starting the Conversation with Patients about Their Weight
Body Mass Index Calculators For Patients: The NHLBI has an online BMI calculator using either Standard or Metric measures. Physicians: Download a BMI calculator program to Palm OS or Pocket PC 2003 devices on the NHLBI Web site.
Patient Education Pamphlet: Obesity and Your Digestive Health: Do You Know Your Risks?
For Patients: Your Gastrointestinal Health & Tools for Weight Loss
Wall Poster: Obesity: Do You Know Your GI Risks? Click here to order one (1) FREE copy of the Obesity Wall Poster for ACG Members only.


Your Gastrointestinal Health & Tools for Weight Loss

Do you know the gastrointestinal diseases that are associated with obesity?
Some of the most common, general medical diseases and risks associated with being overweight or obese include arthritis, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and premature death. You won’t be surprised to know that many of the common gastrointestinal diseases that are seen in individuals with a normal BMI are seen up to 2 to 3 times more commonly in individuals who are obese. Many of these gastrointestinal diseases like gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), liver disease and cancer significantly reduce the quality and longevity of your life.

Maintaining Your Gastrointestinal Health
While gastrointestinal diseases and disorders are seen more commonly in overweight and obese individuals than in normal weight individuals, there are no current recommendations for extra testing of organs in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms or pre-existing laboratory abnormalities.

Weight loss is a recommended strategy to prevent the symptoms related to some gastrointestinal diseases such as GERD and hiatal hernia, and to decrease the risk of progression of diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), recurrent colorectal adenomas and colorectal cancer.

The American College of Gastroenterology recommends that all average risk Americans age 50 and older undergo colorectal cancer screening with colonoscopy. African Americans should begin screening at age 45. Since colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps are more common in overweight and obese individuals extra efforts should be made for these individuals to have colonoscopy at the age of 50 years, if not sooner. Talk to your doctor.

Digestive Disorders Associated with Obesity
GERD Symptoms
Erosive Esophagitis
Barrett’s Esophagus
Esophageal Cancer
Gallstones and Cancer
Precancerous Polyps and Cancer
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Advanced Hepatitis C-related Disease
Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer


Tools & Tips for a Healthier You

Developed by gastroenterologist Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, the College is pleased to share Tips and Tools for consumers interested in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Dr. Ganjhu’s materials are used with her permission.

Food Diary
Exercise Goals & Resistance Training
Calories per Hour Expended in Common Physical Activities
Meal Hints for a Healthier You
Physical Activity Goals
Estimated Calorie Requirements
About Metabolic Syndrome
Healthy Grocery Shopping

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