New Year, Continued Progress

Published in January 2014 Issue             

It seems like yesterday when we were all in Atlanta for ObesityWeek 2013, but here we are over two months later taking care of patients, conducting the work of the society and preparing for ObesityWeek 2014.  

Looking back, ObesityWeek 2013 was a tremendous success. We had more than 4,700 attendees, a record number of exhibitors and the data presented were top notch.

We are already working hard to make next year's meeting in Boston even bigger and better.

2013 was the year the American Medical Association (A.M.A.) declared obesity a disease. While this is not news to those who do bariatric and metabolic surgery, it is an important milestone for our field and our patients, who for too long have been discriminated against by many inside and outside the medical community. The ASMBS will work to build on this greater understanding of obesity and continue to work with primary care, insurers and employers to make sure people with obesity not only get understanding, but get access to
affordable treatment.  

The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and The Obesity Society issued new comprehensive treatment recommendations during ObesityWeek 2013 to help healthcare providers tailor weight loss treatments to adult patients affected by overweight or obesity. The NIH-commissioned guidelines recommend that doctors diagnose and treat obesity at every clinic visit "the way they would any other chronic disease."

The guidelines are geared toward primary care physicians and offer an algorithm for managing obesity. They focus on identifying at-risk patients and prescribing appropriate interventions or referring for bariatric surgery if patients meet BMI criteria. The guidelines recommend doctors advise patients with a BMI of 40 or higher or BMI of 35 or higher who have two other cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, that bariatric surgery may provide significant health benefits. Bariatric surgery must be part of the discussion with these patients and we hope these guidelines encourage more doctors to talk to their patients about it and we will do everything we can as a society to support this important dialog between patient and health care provider.

Quality improvement remains high on our list of priorities for 2014. The long awaited Metabolic Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) is about to launch. This major effort started with a memorandum of understanding between the ACS and ASMBS in April 2012. The year 2014 will mark the official launch of a truly unified program with standards that will improve the quality of care for our patients. 

I am energized by our prospects this year and know that with all of your help, the new year will bring new progress and success for all our members, their patients and the general public.