Virtual Conferencing with a Companion

OAC’s YWM2020 Virtual: Rethinking Everything

For 15 years, the OAC has made the impossible seem doable. Twenty years ago, it seemed impossible to have people with obesity banding together. In fact, one of the smartest thinkers in obesity told us that people would never sign up for such a thing. “Obesity is way too stigmatized,” he said. But nobody told the OAC. Now the OAC has done the impossible again. Staff and volunteers have pulled off YWM2020 Virtual with four times more participation than ever before.

It started yesterday with two keynote presentations and continues with sessions on the 18th, 25th, and 26th.

Thinking Differently About Weight and Health

Slide presented by Dr. Scott Kahan at YWM2020 Virtual

To open the meeting, Scott Kahan challenged people to rethink everything they’ve heard for a lifetime about weight and health. Familiar phrases about losing weight are mostly wrong. They’re backed by myths and packed with stigma. Eat less and move more? Sounds simple until you bump into the physiology of obesity. No pain, no gain? Really? Pain is good? Not exactly. Self-flagellation is not a prescription for good health.

To replace this conventional nonsense, Kahan walked participants through the science of what causes obesity and the tools that can help to cope with it. He ended with a call to reject weight stigma in all forms.

Taking the Long View
Life Events That Affect Weight

Slide presented by Dr. Robert Kushner at YWM2020 Virtual

Much of what we hear about weight and health is focused on immediate results. But obesity is a chronic disease. So to understand and deal with it requires a perspective that considers the whole course of a person’s life. This was the focus of the second keynote for YWM2020 Virtual by Robert Kushner.

Factors to think about include life events that influence weight. Stress and stressors are important factors that flow from life events and have biological effects. In addition, personal factors play a role in how people respond.

The bottom line is that a narrow, short-term, weight loss focus is not especially helpful for addressing a lifelong condition. A life-course perspective that accounts for the whole persons typically yields better results, said Kushner.

A Glimpse of the Future

When the coronavirus fades into the background, our gatherings for events like YWM will never be the same. Time hurries on and technology changes us. So it is with YWM2020 Virtual that OAC is reaching four times more people than it could ever reach as a personal contact event.

Word went out last week that ObesityWeek in November will be a virtual interactive conference this year. ASMBS will not be participating or having a virtual meeting this fall. Instead, the bariatric surgeons are hoping to have their meeting in person in May or June of 2021.

But even next year, the return of meetings with hundreds or thousands of people is an uncertain proposition. What’s more, organizations are learning that virtual meetings can extend their reach – just as OAC did with YWM2020 Virtual.

Old fashioned conferences are beginning to seem quaint by comparison.

Click here for more on YWM2020 Virtual and the upcoming presentations you won’t want to miss. With registration, you can download the presentations by Kahan and Kushner and even obtain CE credits.

Virtual Conferencing with a Companion, photograph © Michelle Vicari / Twitter

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July 12, 2020