As the obesity epidemic continues to grow, with two out of every three Americans either overweight or obese, a Sunday morning session will look at how the healthcare world’s shift to seeing obesity as a chronic disease affects both clinical care and policy.
“It’s probably not a self-help disease,” said Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, Medical Director for the Scottsdale Weight Loss Center, and Vice President of the Obesity Medicine Association. “Just like you wouldn’t go and treat cancer on your own, we know that you have to see a specialist.”
Dr. Primack and Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, Member of the Board of directors and past Chairman of the Obesity Action Coalition and the Founder and a Principal with ConscienHealth, will present “Treatment and Management of Obesity as a Chronic Disease.” The session will talk about how obesity finally became regarded as a disease, how treating obesity leads to better outcomes for those with diabetes, how weight bias and the stigma about obesity impacts care and policy, ways diabetes educators can work in a bias-free manner and how to improve payment for and access to evidence-based obesity care.
Kyle said that health care providers needed to see obesity as a physiologic problem in the same light as hypertension, dyslipidemia and cancer.
“For each of those diseases, there are things that people can do to improve their health, and that’s certainly true of obesity,” he said. “But people need encouragement, not blame, to do that. And that’s the role of the health care professional and a diabetes educator, to help people improve their health.”
Research shows widespread bias against people with obesity, Kyle said. Some who seek help receive disparagement from health care professionals. Misdiagnoses happen as symptoms related to other diagnoses are often blamed on obesity.
Even obesity specialists harbor bias because of the complex nature of the disease that intertwines behavior, psychology and physiology.
“A typical dialogue would be, ‘I want you to lose some weight,’” Kyle said. “The irony of that is, it’s probably something that person has thought about for every moment for many, many years. And if they knew how to do it, they would have already done it. It’s just not easy. It’s not hopeless, but it’s not easy.”
For those interested in seeing what associations they make about obesity, Kyle recommends the implicit association test at projectimplicit.com. The test is “eye-opening in terms of giving you a glimpse into what biases you might have,” he said.
Dr. Primack said that type 2 diabetes is always worsened by overweight and obesity. He recommends a greater emphasis on weight control to help manage diabetes and taking care in selecting medications that do not lead to weight gain.
“When you treat the obesity, the blood pressure gets better, the diabetes gets better, the cholesterol gets better, the joint pain gets better, sometimes the depression gets better, depending on whether its a cause or effect of weight, and sleep apnea gets better,” he said. “There isn’t an organ system in the body that isn’t affected by obesity.”
Dr. Primack will share specific dietary recommendations and concepts. As a general rule, lower carbohydrate, higher protein diets work well, but that’s not for everybody. Individualizing the plan to the patient matters greatly. A successful diet requires both effectiveness and compliance. Finding that balance is the art and science behind weight loss.
He will also give an overview of anti-obesity medications available.
Treatment and Management of Obesity as a Chronic Disease
9:15 am – 10:45 am