Interview #1: Philip R. Schauer, MD
Starting in 2013, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and The Obesity Society (TOS) will co-locate their respective annual meetings under one roof. Obesity Week™ 2013 marks the beginning of an annual collaborative event addressing obesity—a chronic and multifaceted metabolic disease.
Leading up to Obesity Week 2013, Bariatric Times will feature interviews with members of the leadership team involved in organizing this historic event. We begin the series with Dr. Philip Schauer, who has been instrumental in shaping the concept of Obesity Week and leads the organizing committee.
Bariatric Times. 2013;10(1):12–13
Dr. Schauer, how did the idea of Obesity Week come about and how has it progressed?
The concept of Obesity Week is to create a unique meeting that is an international event focusing on the basic science, clinical aspects, and prevention of obesity, which is the biggest health problem in the United States and abroad. Other health-related societies and associations, such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, have demonstrated this meeting model, but nothing like this existed for obesity. When I was president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery in 2004, I proposed the concept of a larger meeting for obesity that would bring together key organizations interested in obesity. While brainstorming more about how to make this concept work, it was clear that The Obesity Society (TOS) would be a partner of ASMBS in such a project. I met with the TOS leadership and proposed that they join the ASMBS as principal partners of a joint meeting and that both of our organizations co-locate our annual meetings. While discussing specifics of such a meeting, we agreed that there would be some combined sessions of ASMBS and TOS in addition to each organization holding their own meetings and presentations. TOS met the idea with great enthusiasm, and in 2008, TOS created a legal unit called Obesity Week, LLC.
Tell us more about Obesity Week as an organization. Who is involved and what are their roles?
Obesity Week, LLC is a nonprofit company created so that the ASMBS and TOS could manage finances while planning their Obesity Week meeting. It took one year for both organizations to outline and approve the company’s mission statement and structure. A board of managers, made of up both ASMBS and TOS members, runs Obesity Week LLC. I am a co-director along with Gary Foster, PhD, who is a past president of TOS. The board of managers also includes Georgann Mallory, ASMBS Executive Director, and Francesca Dea, Executive Director of TOS.
What were the preliminary steps of planning the first annual Obesity Week meeting? What can an attendee of the meeting expect? What are some benefits of Obesity Week?
Planning the first Obesity Week meeting first meant choosing a date and venue. Neither the ASMBS nor TOS were committed to meeting dates or venues in 2013, so we decided on this year. We chose Atlanta, Georgia, as the host city because we believe it is good venue, it is available for November 2013, and Atlanta’s airport offers good national and international access. Attendee access was an important consideration in planning the meeting, as we want to be as inclusive as possible. Since Atlanta is home to the Centers for Disease Control, we also hope to capitalize on the epidemiological aspects of obesity. We expect this meeting to be very attractive to scientists and clinicians. The goal of Obesity Week is to create the largest, most important scientific meeting covering all aspects of obesity. By attending this meeting, people will be able to have a greater variety of access to education in all areas of obesity—diet, drug therapy, exercise, surgery, the young, the old, morbid obesity, and access to care, just to name a few. Attendees of Obesity Week will enjoy new benefits, such as combined symposiums and keynote lectures, as well as old traditions kept in place by the partner societies. We hope that by combining efforts, we can host the most comprehensive meeting in the world on the subject of obesity.
A lot of work has gone into preparing for the meeting. We have drafted a sketch of the meeting set up and have promoted Obesity Week via our marketing governance committee. While ASMBS and TOS are the primary partners of Obesity Week, there are also secondary and tertiary partners. Some of these partners, including the American Heart Association and Society for Ingestive Behavior, will host sessions during the meeting. We also expect a huge interest from industry, especially companies that have supported ASMBS and TOS meetings in the past. ASMBS and TOS will see double the attendance from their separate annual meetings and an increase in attendees will boost revenue, which can then be used to fund Obesity Week’s mission: Through research, education and advocacy, to better understand, prevent, and treat obesity and improve the lives of those affected.
What is your own expectation for Obesity Week 2013?
I expect that each year, the Obesity Week meeting will get bigger and better. We have a commitment to perform the meeting for the next four years, so we will evaluate and reassess each year. In the next 5 to 10 years, we expect Obesity Week to boast 25,000 to 30,000 in attendance.
Obesity is one of the biggest health problems of our time and it has not gotten the attention it deserves. Having a superb meeting with the best minds will shine a bigger light on obesity. It will attract international press, policy makers, scientists, and funding organizations to a greater degree. Giving obesity a greater international platform will help showcase the problem. I think obesity belongs on the minds of Americans just as Heart Disease, Cancer, and Diabetes.
Dr. Schauer, thank you again for taking the time to speak to us. We look forward to seeing you at Obesity Week 2013.
To learn more about Obesity Week, LLC, please visit www.obesity.org.
Obesity Week Upcoming Dates and Venues
Obesity Week 2013
Obesity Week 2014
Obesity Week 2015
Los Angeles, California
A Reminder from the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
The 30th Annual Meeting of the ASMBS will be moved to
November 11–16, 2013 and will take place during Obesity Week in
Atlanta, Georgia! We look forward to seeing you there!