EASO advocates for clear definitions of obesity in ICD-11

EASO advocates for clear definitions of obesity in ICD-11

Diagnostic classification systems are of paramount importance for identifying disease in routine clinical practice across the world. The Tenth Edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has been in use for a quarter of a century. In 2018, ICD-11 will be launched. At this time, descriptions and diagnostic criteria for all somatic and mental disorders will be updated, to account for medical progress.

Obesity is a complex chronic disease, with dramatically increasing prevalence rates globally. The medical importance of obesity today far exceeds that of most other complex diseases; obesity is regarded as one of the greatest challenges to health by the WHO.

The European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) is using the update as an opportunity to reflect on both the current ICD-10 and the proposed ICD-11 criteria for obesity. After lengthy and fruitful discussions, we have come up with a proposal to define obesity in a way that best reflects the current evidence – Read the full proposal

We propose a coherent classification of obesity based on the three dimensions: etiology, degree of adiposity and health risk. Recent advances with respect to etiological factors and treatment outcomes are incorporated in the classification. Fundamental issues pertain to delineation of a cutoff for the diagnosis of obesity and the roles of developmental stage and gender. Crucially, diagnostic criteria must prevent stigmatization and discourage discrimination of affected individuals.

We hope that our work has an impact on the ICD-11 criteria for obesity and provides health care professionals with a solid basis for diagnosis and treatment of their patients for generations to come.


Johannes Hebebrand
J. C. Holm
Hermann Toplak
Euan Woodward