The Las Vegas Strip

ObesityWeek: Ten Top Take-Home Messages

ObesityWeek 2019 LogoWe’ve had our full dose of Las Vegas. But ObesityWeek has given us more to think about than shows and casinos. With record attendance of 5,800, it was more than any one person could absorb. No doubt, everyone has returned home with a different experience from ObesityWeek. So here are our ten top take-home messages.

But please, make it more complete and share your top takeaways in the comment section below.

1. Getting Serious About Childhood Obesity

The focus on getting serious about childhood obesity was remarkable. For example, Janie Pratt led a day-long review of diverse approaches from all around the world. On adolescents, researchers presented 132 abstracts. An analysis of the MBSAQIP database tells us that adolescent bariatric surgery is growing in a linear fashion. In addition, new anti-obesity meds are coming through the research pipeline to meet the needs of youth and children with severe obesity. Innovation is a good sign.

2. Promising New Anti-Obesity Meds

We were blown away by the breadth of innovation in medicines to treat obesity. The range starts with Rhythm’s highly targeted drug for rare genetic forms of the disease. At the other end, we see an expansive research program at Novo Nordisk. Finally, out of the blue, we got our first glimpse of a totally new agent that may work to improve body composition while causing impressive fat loss.

3. Taking Obesity to Heart

In the Mason Lecture, Phil Schauer made a compelling case for the value of bariatric surgery to improve cardiovascular outcomes. But he also made the case that we need more. We need a randomized controlled trial to silence the remaining skeptics.

4. Question Everything

Barbara Corkey wasn’t the only person at ObesityWeek calling us to question our assumptions. But she was the best. She told us in her keynote lecture we can’t defeat obesity if we don’t ask the right questions. And she’s right. Clustering ourselves into buddy clubs that think alike is stifling progress.

5. Intermittent Fasting: Science Meets Popular Culture

When popular culture latches onto an interesting scientific concept in obesity, things get interesting. So the room was packed for the Blackburn Symposium on intermittent fasting and circadian rhythms. The science is rich with new insights. And unfortunately, some dubious characters are getting rich by selling us get-thin-quick schemes related to the subject.

6. Turning Diabetes Around

William Cefalu gave an impressive talk for the ObesityWeek opening keynote. He spoke of the need for more precision approaches to diabetes care. Aggressive obesity treatment can drive diabetes into remission. But our own research, presented here, tells us that this knowledge is hidden from public view. Most people in both the U.S. and U.K. believe that it’s ineffective. Their top choice for effectiveness? Self-directed diet and exercise. We have a lot of work to do.

7. Patients at the Center

Everywhere we turned at ObesityWeek, we saw patient advocates. But more importantly, we saw leaders in the field making it clear that people living with obesity should be at the center of everything we do. Arya Sharma made it clear as he accepted his Master of ABOM award. It’s all about the respect.

8. The Cancer Link

With sufficient improvement in obesity, bariatric surgery can cut the risk of cancer in half. That observation came from one of the top ASMBS papers at ObesityWeek. It was the product of research at Oregon State by Andrea Stroud.

9. Public Health

Can fiscal nutrition policies – for example, taxes – actually help to shape a healthier food environment? How will we know if it works? Public health policy wonks on the front lines of this work debated potential answers to these difficult questions. The final answer? It’s a work in progress.

10. Personal Celebrations

Perhaps the best part of gathering in Las Vegas was the opportunity for personal celebrations and renewed connections. We participated in a few of these and followed many more on social media. These were joyful moments sprinkled all through the week.

The Las Vegas Strip, photograph © Travel Nevada / flickr

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November 9, 2019

4 Responses to “ObesityWeek: Ten Top Take-Home Messages”

  1. November 09, 2019 at 6:44 pm, Walter Medlin said:

    This will remembered as the year #SADI was approved – Beginning of the end for Gastric Bypass (May settle around 5-10%, not zero as band did…)

    Now the challenge for surgeons is to update all the “calculators” from Cleveland Clinic and elsewhere, and to implement adoption of new procedures with safest learning curve possible. Hopefully the new concept of ongoing video coaching will make a difference.

    • November 09, 2019 at 7:02 pm, Ted said:

      Excellent addition Walt. I’m not sure everyone recognizes the importance of this milestone – yet.

  2. November 10, 2019 at 3:46 pm, JEANINE Marie SHERMAN said:

    Ted, your blog has become a part of my everyday reading. Thank you for dedicating your time to advocating and public awareness. I appreciate you. Big Thank You for including my personal celebration in your Top 10 of Obesity Week!

    • November 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks for taking the time to offer some encouragement, as you do for so many people, Jeanine. You’re making this world a little better every day.