2013 AHA/ACC/TOS Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines, and The Obesity Society


The following are 10 points to remember about this American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA)/The Obesity Society (TOS) Guideline on Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults:

1. Approximately 78 million adults in the United States are obese, which places them at risk for morbidity from a variety of conditions including diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke. An expert panel was assembled to first develop a list of critical questions to be addressed. Five targeted questions were selected based on relevance to health care providers who frequently work with obese patients, and to provide an update on the benefits and risks of weight loss achieved with various approaches. Not included were questions related to genetics of obesity, binge eating disorders, pharmacotherapy, and cost-effectiveness of interventions to manage obesity. Five critical questions were addressed, which centered around evidence for:

  1. Weight loss and reduction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, events, and mortality;

  2. Current cut points for body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference in relation to CVD risk;

  3. Different diets in relation to weight loss and weight maintenance;

  4. Comprehensive lifestyle intervention programs for weight loss and maintenance of weight loss; and

  5. Bariatric surgery for weight loss, and maintenance of weight loss, and impact on CVD risk factors and mortality over the short- and long-term.

2. Providers are recommended to measure height and weight and calculate BMI at annual visits or more frequently to identify patients who need to lose weight. Use of current cut points for overweight (BMI >25.0-29.9 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) should be continued to identify adults who may be at increased risk for CVD. A cut point for obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) should be used to identify adults at increased risk for all-cause mortality. Patients who are overweight or obese should be counseled that their BMI level places them at increased risk for CVD, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.

3. Waist circumference should be measured at annual visits or more frequently in overweight and obese adults. Cut points for increased waist circumference defined by the National Institutes of Health or World Health Organization (>35 inches or 88 cm for women and >40 inches or 102 cm for men) can be used. Patients who have an increased waist circumference should be counseled that their BMI level places them at increased risk for CVD, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.

4. Overweight and obese adults with CVD risk factors (including elevated blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia) should be counseled that even modest weight loss (3-5% of body weight) can result in clinically meaningful benefits for triglycerides, blood glucose, glycated hemoglobin, and development of diabetes (type 2). Greater weight loss (>5%) can further reduce blood pressure, improve lipids (both low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), and reduce need of medications to control blood pressure, blood glucose, and lipids.

5. A diet prescribed for weight loss is recommended to be part of a comprehensive lifestyle intervention, a component of which includes a plan to achieve reduced caloric intake. Any one of the following methods can be used to reduce food and calorie intake:

  1. Prescribe 1,200-1,500 kcal/day for women and 1,500-1,800 kcal/day for men (kcal levels are usually adjusted for the individual’s body weight);

  2. Prescribe a 500 kcal/day or 750 kcal/day energy deficit; or

  3. Prescribe one of the evidence-based diets that restricts certain food types (such as high-carbohydrate foods, low-fiber foods, or high-fat foods) in order to create an energy deficit by reduced food intake.

6. Prescribing a calorie-restricted diet should be based on the patient’s preferences, health status, and preferably with a referral to a nutrition professional for counseling.

7. Overweight and obese adults who would benefit from weight loss are recommended to participate in at least 6 months of a comprehensive lifestyle program, which assists participants to adhere to a lower calorie diet and to increase physical activity. Such programs are recommended to include high-intensity (i.e., ≥14 sessions in 6 months), comprehensive weight loss interventions provided in individual or group sessions by a trained interventionist. Electronically delivered weight loss programs (including by telephone) that include personalized feedback from a trained interventionist can be prescribed for weight loss, but may result in smaller weight loss than face-to-face interventions. Some commercial-based programs that provide a comprehensive lifestyle intervention can be prescribed as an option for weight loss, provided there is peer-reviewed published evidence of their safety and efficacy.

8. It is recommended that very low-calorie diets (defined as <800 kcal/day) be used only when medical monitoring and trained providers are available, and only as part of a high-intensity lifestyle intervention.

9. Weight loss maintenance is recommended to be a component of patients’ overall weight loss plan. Participation in a long-term (≥1 year) comprehensive weight loss maintenance program is strongly recommended. Programs should include regular contact with trained personnel, face-to-face or telephone-delivered, to encourage high levels of physical activity (200-300 minutes/week), monitor body weight (at least weekly), and adhere to a reduced-calorie diet (needed to maintain lower body weight).

10. Among adults with a BMI ≥40 or BMI ≥35 with obesity-related comorbid conditions, who have not responded to behavioral treatments with or without pharmacotherapy, bariatric surgery may be an appropriate option. For individuals with a BMI <35, there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against undergoing bariatric surgical procedures.

Keywords: Hyperlipidemias, Overweight, Referral and Consultation, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, World Health Organization, Coronary Disease, Blood Pressure, Risk Factors, Hernia, Diaphragmatic, Glycated Hemoglobin A, Waist Circumference, Cholesterol, Waist-Hip Ratio, Caloric Restriction, Binge-Eating Disorder, Obesity, Morbid, Motor Activity, Cardiovascular Diseases, Risk Assessment, United States, Hyperglycemia, Bariatric Surgery, Stroke, Lipoproteins, LDL, Body Mass Index, Weight Reduction Programs, Blood Glucose, Diet, Triglycerides

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