Obesity Week is an interdisciplinary scientific meeting that happens annually in the fall. This year’s meeting took place October 29th to November 2nd. The meeting covers numerous topics of interest to those with #obesity and those involved in the care of patients with #obesity. For our November chat, we will highlight the four topics that jumped out at us as the most interesting or impactful.
We were impressed to see multiple sessions related to weight bias on the program. The one that stood out to us the most was a session highlighting research by Rebecca Puhl, Rebecca Pearl, and Allison Grupski. Dr. Puhl talking about internalized weight bias and how it occurs. Essentially, over time people who face external weight bias start to engage in self-blame, self-criticism, and other negative behaviors toward the self that ultimately lead to self stigmatization. This internalized weight bias may have an impact on health outcomes even if external bias is no longer experienced. Internalized weight bias may also impact willingness to seek health care. Dr. Pearl taught us about how weight loss is associated with improvement in mental health including improved body image, self-esteem, and quality of life. Importantly, she pointed out that legislation that outlaws discrimination (including weight-based discrimination) can reduce self-blame and lead to better mental and physical health among people exposed to discrimination. Legislation may also be associated with lower levels of internalized weight bias. From Dr. Grupski we learned about behaviors that can minimize weight bias in the clinical environment. Tips included avoiding biased language (e.g., “You really just need to decide if this is important to you.”), being empathetic, and learning about psychological processes such as ego depletion.
There were multiple sessions on social media and its utility in delivering and amplifying messages. For example, there was a behavioral health session which included Rachel Goldman, Alexis Conason, and Nina Crowley, which focused on increasing awareness of why health professionals should be on social media, as well as ethical considerations. There was also an integrated health session with Alexis Conason, Allison Grupski, Yoni Freedhoff, and Kimberly Sasso. This session focused on topics in the news and how the headlines affect our practice and treatment of patients. Finally, there were sessions focused on the growth and development of #obsm and advanced Twitter skills for busy people.
The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) hosted Kevin Hall as the keynote speaker. Dr. Hall has done extensive research with participants from The Biggest Loser. In this fascinating address, Dr. Hall covered a lot of ground regarding metabolism and changes related to weight loss and weight gain. One major takeaway was that, among people who had lost a significant amount of weight on The Biggest Loser, those who were successful in keeping most of the weight off were those who exercised more. He also examined the changes to metabolism on a low carbohydrate, high protein diet and found that energy expenditure actually decreases under these conditions.
A distinguished panel including lead author, Dr. Lee Kaplan, announced important results from the Awareness, Care, and Treatment In Obesity Management (ACTION) Study sponsored by Novo Nordisk. The ACTION study investigated barriers to effective obesity management from the perspectives of people with obesity, health care professionals (HCPs), and employers. Although two-thirds of patients recognized obesity as a disease, more than 80% believed weight loss was completely their own responsibility. The results also showed inadequate communication between patients and HCPs about weight, with less than one-quarter of patients with obesity offered follow-up care after a weight-management conversation with their HCP. And while nearly three-quarters of employers believed their wellness programs supported weight management, only 17% of people with obesity agreed. These and other findings from the ACTION study highlight important areas that need to be addressed for patients to receive adequate obesity care.
These are the specific questions we will discuss during the chat (Sunday, 11/12/17 at 9 pm EST):
- What is the impact of weight bias internalization? How can clinics and providers help minimize this?
- What is the most effective use of social media for patients? For providers?
- What are practical tips gleaned from The Biggest Loser experience?
- How can we encourage patients to seek treatment for obesity just like they would for any other chronic disease?
- What topics and issues would you like to hear about at Obesity Week 2018?