The Field of Obesity Medicine Made Great Strides in 2019

| December 1, 2019

by Christopher D. Still, DO, FACN, FACP

Co-Clinical Editor of Bariatric Times; Medical Director for the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management, and Director for Geisinger Obesity Research Institute at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Dear Colleagues:

As we conclude 2019 and look toward 2020, I would like to reflect on the year in terms of accomplishments in the understanding and treatment of obesity, as well as to highlight opportunities for the coming year.

Regarding treatment, new pharmacotherapies are continuing to move through the pipeline with Phase II and III clinical trials. Additionally, reimbursement for anti-obesity medications is continuously increasing as employers and payers see their efficacy and significant improvement in health.

The obesity medicine specialty continues to thrive. This year, over 1,000 physicians have applied to sit for the 2020 American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) certification examination. These successful diplomates will add to the nearly 3,400 diplomates currently certified by the ABOM. It’s so great to see the steady growth of physicians taking the initiative to advance their knowledge, understanding, and treatment of obesity.

I think ObesityWeek 2019 in Las Vegas was the best yet! The scientific sessions were exceptional, and the topics focused on bringing both organizations together for great collaborations. During ObesityWeek, The Obesity Society (TOS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) welcomed Drs. Lee Kaplan and Matthew Hutter as their new respective presidents. In addition, the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) had another successful meeting in Boston.

Speaking of successful conferences in 2019, the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) Annual Convention welcomed upward of 500 participants at their Your Weight Matters National Convention this year in Tampa, Florida. This is such a great patient-centered, scientifically based convention. It is a great resource to help patients understand their weight and health and connect with others. I urge all of you to have your patients attend the 2020 convention in Las Vegas!

The Obesity Medicine Fellowship Council, which was established in 2018 to increase obesity medicine fellowships, continues to make great progress under the leadership of Dr. Kaplan. This program, specifically for MDs and DOs pursuing a career in obesity medicine, is overseen by the Obesity Medicine Fellowship Council, of which I am pleased to be a member. The council has developed standardized curriculum for obesity medicine fellowships and has, to date, awarded five seed grants for new obesity medicine fellowships throughout the country. Looking ahead, I believe this program will broaden a physician’s competency and understanding of obesity, which will help fill the educational gap that exists in medical school curriculum.

As we look forward to 2020, there continues to be many great opportunities for the field of obesity. Hopefully additional anti-obesity medications will be approved with continued increases in reimbursement. Another opportunity will be the increased awareness, diagnostics, and potential therapeutic treatment options for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH, because of obesity, has reached epidemic proportions and will soon be the number one indication for liver transplantation. Weight loss will remain its primary treatment recommendation. Medical and surgical weight loss interventions will continue to lead the way in treatment of this chronic, progressive disease. We are well situated to be the leader in these patients’ treatment

These are just a few of the many highlights in the field of obesity medicine for 2019. All in all, a great year! I thank you all for another great year at Bariatric Times. May you all have a blessed holiday, continued success, good health, and happiness in 2020!

Sincerely,

Christopher D. Still, DO, FACN, FACP

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