IFSO and ASMBS Take on the World

Published in April 2014 Issue             

Obesity is a disease that crosses oceans and borders. No country is immune. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults were overweight and about 500 million people were living with obesity, according to the last estimates provided by the World Health
Organization (WHO).

“The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010,” published in The Lancet in 2012 revealed what researchers called a “massive shift in global health trends,” as obesity has become a bigger health crisis than hunger. WHO reports that 65 percent of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people
than underweight.

The battle against the global obesity epidemic is being fought on many fronts, by many individuals and by many organizations through a wide range of prevention, treatment and policy strategies.

In the area of metabolic and bariatric surgery, the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) is helping lead the way for greater collaboration and scientific exchange across borders.

Michel Gagner, MD

“What works in some parts of the world may not work in others because of our different health care systems, but it’s important to see what the rest of the world is doing and learn and apply what we can,” said Michel Gagner, MD, IFSO 2014 Congress President. “We have so much to learn from each other and our next World Congress will be a dynamic and perfect environment for that to happen.”

The IFSO 2014 World Congress from August 26 to August 30, 2014 in Montréal, Canada, will be the 19th annual meeting for the group that has grown to 56 national societies and more than 8,400 individual members throughout the world. In just the last five years, the number of societies has grown 150 percent, while individual membership has grown 60 percent.

IFSO is organized into four regional chapters: North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) is its largest member organization. The Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons (CABPS) recently joined.

Jaime Ponce, MD

“IFSO has become a sort of ‘United Nations’ of metabolic and bariatric surgery,” said Jaime Ponce, MD, immediate-past President of ASMBS and IFSO North American Chapter President. “IFSO is the best channel we have to spread knowledge throughout the world.”

The IFSO 2014 World Congress will serve as an international hub for this exchange for the latest advancements and challenges in the field of metabolic and bariatric surgery. The scientific program includes pre-Congress training courses, live surgical workshops, oral and poster presentations, symposia and hot topic debates. Over the course of the program there will be nearly 50 live surgeries telecast from all over the world to attendees in Montréal.

“We have been witnesses of the tremendous change of laparoscopic techniques in bariatric and metabolic surgery over the last 20 years,” wrote Luigi Angrisani, MD, IFSO President in his welcome letter to IFSO 2014 World Congress delegates. More than 2,000 are expected to attend from 60 countries and four continents.

Dr. Angrisani explained that while the minimal invasive approach has just become a standard of care, other techniques might prove to be transformational including single incision, trans oral and robotic surgery. He also points out that indications are “changing toward an earlier stage of both obesity and diabetes and it is quite clear to most of us that in a considerable number of patients one operation is not enough to control this chronic progressive systemic disease.”

In March, IFSO endorsed the creation of a pilot project, The IFSO Global Registry Pilot (IGRP), to demonstrate that it is possible to merge and analyze bariatric and metabolic surgical data from different countries and centers. A report on this project is expected in time for the IFSO 2014 World Congress.

“There is something for everyone in this changing and exciting multidisciplinary field. Things are moving a lot,” Dr. Gagner said.

Manuela Mazzarella

“We believe the international flavor of the IFSO Congress can be very interesting and appealing for the U.S. members in order to have a global, multinational perspective on the state of the art of bariatric and metabolic surgery and it can open the way to possible collaborations,” said Manuela Mazzarella, IFSO Executive Secretary.

IFSO has big plans for the future. The organization wants to establish the IFSO Foundation to raise funds for conducting research and education, increasing public and scientific awareness and understanding, and improving access to quality care and treatment of obesity and morbid obesity -- all goals that the world of metabolic and bariatric surgery can certainly agree upon.