Commentary: Taking the Next Step to Help Patients with Obesity

Caroline Apovian 09262016

Through my work as an obesity medicine physician I have had the pleasure (and shared in the frustration) of helping patients with obesity reduce the day-to-day consequences of this debilitating disease. I hear frequently from my colleagues about the difficult task they face when treating patients with obesity, and worse, the more than 30 related conditions. I agree, it is not an easy task. For too long our healthcare system has been focused on treating the many common conditions that come as a result of obesity, rather than the disease itself.

As endocrinologists, you treat patients for diabetes, metabolic syndromes, osteoporosis, cancers, cholesterol disorders, hypertension… the list goes on. All of these diseases are on the long list of those resulting from obesity and excess weight. But, what modern medicine tells us is that we can treat obesity and we should treat it first. Most importantly, by treating obesity we can also reduce the large majority of these comorbid conditions, as well as the many medications our patients take to treat them.

“Obesity is a disease that affects more than one-third of the U.S. adult population, it is associated with an estimated 112,000 excess deaths each year, and amounts to approximately $200 billion per year in medical costs.”

There are many resources available to help you integrate this care into your practice.

On behalf of The Obesity Society, I’m proud to have been able to participate in the creation of both the Guidelines for Managing Overweight in Obesity in Adults and the Pharmacological Management of Obesity, published by the Endocrine Society. But, I also fully understand that as busy professionals, reviewing and understanding these guidelines can be a daunting task.

The Obesity Society aims to make this easier for you by translating this knowledge, as well as the latest treatment approaches and research, into an easily digestible format at our Annual Meeting at ObesityWeek. Coming up this fall, Nov. 1 – Nov. 4, we’re taking the conference to New Orleans, Louisiana, where we’ve planned a program complete with high-quality continuing education sessions, world-renowned expert speakers, and more than a thousand oral and poster abstract presentations. Co-hosted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), we hope you’ll take advantage of the diverse educational opportunities, networking events and scientific synergies created through the fourth year of this collaboration.

“For too long our healthcare system has been focused on treating the many common conditions that come as a result of obesity, rather than the disease itself.”

At ObesityWeek you’ll find a program that runs the gamut of the obesity disease state from childhood to late adulthood. There is something available for every stage of life – including answers to key questions about obesity, such as: How do we treat the disease? Which diet is best for which patient? Is there evidence behind the exercise prescription? How do I match an anti-obesity agent to my patient? How do I tailor an obesity treatment plan for a young mother versus an elderly patient?

With so much to offer, it can be difficult to identify the top sessions to attend, particularly for first-time attendees. So, I’ve taken some time to select sessions that, as endocrinologists, you will not only enjoy, but will also learn practical tools to bring back to your practices and your patients. These are just a small selection of the offerings:

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016
3:30 – 5:00pm CT
Taxes, Financial Incentives, and Food Marketing: Hear leading researchers present the latest findings on efforts to improve food decision making, such as food taxes and financial incentives.

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016
10:15am – 11:45am CT
And the Rich Get Richer…Are Our Obesity Reduction Efforts Increasing Health Disparities?: In this session, you’ll have a chance to hear about disparities in obesity, and the latest strategies for addressing them.

10:15am – 11:45am CT
Best of the Best in Population Health: From postpartum weight gain in minority women to the tie between obesity and depression in youth, researchers will present their latest findings in population health during this session.

3:30pm – 5:00pm CT
Advances in Socio-Ecological Influences on Diet and Weight: How does a father’s childcare involvement impact obesity? Does the Biggest Loser lead to disordered eating in young adults? This session will answer some unique questions about the socio-ecological influences on obesity.

5:15pm – 6:15pm CT
Key Lecture: Important Things You Might not Know about the Variables You are Using: We have learned a lot about obesity research over the past several years. Some variables have emerged as promising, well others have been shown unreliable. Find the ins and outs in this session.

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016
1:30pm – 3:00pm CT
Oxytocin: Love Hormone Fights Obesity: This key session for endocrinologists will focus on how the love hormone is closely tied to metabolic functions and how this concept might be used for creating new obesity treatments.

At ObesityWeek there are more than 100 sessions that allow you to tailor the meeting to take away whatever it is that you are looking for. However you devise your schedule, you will walk away with the knowledge, the contacts and the enthusiasm to advance your career, and most importantly help your patients with obesity.

“By treating obesity we can also reduce the large majority of these comorbid conditions, as well as the many medications our patients take to treat them.”

As we well know, obesity is a disease that affects more than one-third of the U.S. adult population, it is associated with an estimated 112,000 excess deaths each year, and amounts to approximately $200 billion per year in medical costs. The numbers are astounding and inaction is not an option. ObesityWeek could be your next step toward contributing to this larger cause. I hope to see you in New Orleans!

– Caroline Apovian, MD, is a practicing obesity medicine physician, vice president of The Obesity Society, and member of the Endocrine Society Annual Meeting Steering Committee and Chair of the 2015 Clinical Practice Guideline “Pharmacological Treatment of Obesity”

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