Four Highlights of Wednesday at Obesity Week 2013

Highlights of Wednesday at Obesity Week 2013 defy an authoritative count, because the rich agenda was overflowing with them as the meeting opened up in full force.

With that disclaimer, here are four that compelled our interest:

  1. Long-Term Obesity Surgery Outcomes. Among the top 10 papers presented to ASMBS were two studies of long-term outcomes from bariatric surgery. Ali Aminian and colleagues presented data to document significant risk reduction for major metabolic disease complications and cardiovascular mortality six years after gastric bypass. John Scott documented a 67% reduction in death five years after obesity surgery in in a controlled study of 24,313 patients with severe obesity and type 2 diabetes. He found reductions in retinopathy, limb removal, cardiovascular events, and other serious complications of diabetes, even in patients with surgery at more advanced stages of diabetes.
  2. The Future of Obesity Research. Obesity Society president Harvey Grill and NIH director Griffin Rodgers chaired a special symposium to explicitly examine the future of obesity research. Michael Rosenbaum presented compelling evidence for the need to investigate novel strategies for maintaining weight loss, suggesting that the medical strategies will need to be very different. In the health policy poster session, Emily Dhuranhar presented a survey of TOS membership to assess their perceptions of the obesity research agenda. She found opportunities to advance and articulate a research agenda that favors testing novel approaches to obesity.
  3. Weight Bias from Health Providers. Kimberly Gudzune presented a study of the impact of weight bias from primary care providers (PCPs) that the Obesity Society Health Services Research Section judged to be one of the best of the meeting. She found that although harsh judgements from PCPs might prompt weight loss attempts, such experiences led to less successful outcomes.
  4. The Gap in Wellness Programs Targeting Obesity. Another study commended by the Health Services Research Section found a substantial gap in health plans offered by employers who are requiring participation in wellness programs and setting weight-related wellness goals. Most (59%) of these health plans do not cover intensive evidence-based obesity treatment such as dietitian services, obesity medicine physicians, obesity drugs, or surgery. Disclosure: ConscienHealth founder Ted Kyle led this study, so we have a natural interest here.

Stay tuned for more highlights of Obesity Week in Atlanta.

Atlanta Skyline from Buckhead, photograph © Chuck Koehler / flickr

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