Time to Go Home at LAX

ObesityWeek 2015: Top Ten to Take Home

Gee whiz, our brains are full. After a week of listening and learning from the smartest people in the world about obesity, we all need some time to it take home from ObesityWeek 2015 and just digest it. But while you’re digesting, here are some things to reflect upon.

  1. Brain Drain & Gain. The neuroscience presented at this meeting, ranging from brain stimulation for appetite control, to vagal nerve blockade, to hypothalamic gliosis, and more was nothing short of impressive.
  2. eHealth. People have high hopes for digital technology to enhance prevention and treatment strategies for obesity. Some of it might be puffery and some of it might be promising, but we certainly had a lot to see at this meeting.
  3. Pharmacotherapy. Deeper experience with the four new drugs to treat obesity means that quite a few papers were presented, as well as sessions on the prospects for new options.
  4. Teen LABS. Despite impressive new data presented at ObesityWeek and published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the value of bariatric surgery for adolescents who need it, people are still writing things like “a last resort” and “similar results could be achieved with extremely intensive programs.”
  5. Balloons. We had plenty of exposure to two newly approved gastric balloons at ObesityWeek. But a “procedureless” experimental balloon from Allurion Technologies (the Ellipse gastric balloon) stole the press coverage when phase 2 data were presented.
  6. Soda Taxes. We had plenty of sessions on soda taxes, but a paucity of hard data that can support any firm conclusions. That gap in the evidence does little to slow either the proponents or opponents. We have God-given talent for making assumptions and that’s all we need to keep our stale arguments alive.
  7. Labeling. Fascinating studies on menu and food labeling once again told us that simplistic assumptions will keep making fools of us.
  8. Economics of Surgery. ASMBS President John Morton presented data showing that bariatric surgery — contrary to many assumptions — actually provides pretty good value for money.
  9. Access to Care. Vanderbilt law professor Jennifer Shinall presented a strong case for pursuing gender discrimination complaints for plans that deny access to obesity care. Another study (conducted by ConscienHealth) documented remarkably poor insurance coverage for obesity care.
  10. Bias and Shaming. New data from the Rudd Center and the Obesity Action Coalition found evidence that despite some decline in fat shaming, weight bias remains prevalent.

A week filled with such intensity of new learning requires considerable effort from a staggering number of people. Thank you all.

Links to more information can be found in each of the items above.

Time to Go Home at LAX, photograph © Ted Kyle

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November 8, 2015