By Stephen Archer, MD, Obesity Prevention Committee Chair
In light of the magnitude of the problem of morbid obesity, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) has approved the formation of the Obesity Prevention Committee (OPC). I called ASMBS President, Dr. Raul Rosenthal with the request for the OPC and he has been fully supportive. My model for the OPC has been the American College of Surgeons support of the use of helmets for prevention of head injury. (https://www.facs.org/quality%20programs/trauma/ipc/bicycle)
The OPC is asking itself, and you, the membership of the ASMBS: What is the “helmet” for obesity? How do we prevent this epidemic for future generations? Obviously this is a long-term project and much (much!) more complex than simply finding a helmet.
Obesity is persistent and prone to recurrence. I believe the work of the OPC will help steer the ASMBS to ask and answer hard questions about the multifactorial nature of obesity and the clearly emerging fact that both treatment and prevention require multimodal therapy, similar to the oncology model.
The members of the OPC have written the following mission statement:
The ASMBS Obesity Prevention Committee advocates for, educates, and empowers individuals and families, healthcare providers, public policy framers and society at large to work across generations to realize lifestyles, healthcare strategies and public policies that prevent obesity.
Based on this mission statement we have developed objectives. Dr. Rosenthal sagely suggested that we first address the issue of prevention of recurrence of obesity in patients who have undergone surgery for obesity—weight regain in our patients. This is critical because it compels us, as surgeons, to look honestly at the one therapy we emphasize and ask ourselves: How are our patients really doing?
It is no longer enough to simply say “surgery is better than anything else out there” because we all see consistent weight regain in some of our patients. What is our next, better level of care? So our first objective turns the microscope on ourselves.
From there we expand to the societal issues of obesity prevention. Here are the objectives:
- To create a clinical pathway for prevention of obesity and weight regain in post bariatric surgery patients.
- To develop community solutions for obesity prevention by mining our members’ best efforts and elevating those efforts as suggestions for other communities, scaling up the most successful to a broader audience. This objective may also include an effort to incorporate prevention activities into accreditation.
- To develop a program to address issues related to the food supply on a national level to include national statements about the food industry, school lunches and/or, empty foods.
We are actively seeking partners within the umbrella of our Society’s Integrated Health partners to help us develop strategies for prevention. We will be seeking the input of stakeholders such as pediatricians, endocrinologists and others in making strong, definitive and joint statements about the state of the problem of obesity and also our best estimation of how to prevent this disease for our children and grandchildren.
We want your input and help. How? Respond to requests to share your local efforts at obesity prevention and help us develop new programs. Let’s look for the best of the best on local levels, share those, adapt, and start the incremental pathway to turning this tide.