ObesityWeek 2014 and My Year

Published in October 2014 Issue             

We are expecting a record turnout for ObesityWeek 2014. The program will feature the latest research and the best education the obesity and bariatric community has to offer. There will be expert roundtable luncheons on how to choose the right bariatric procedure for the right patient, MBSAQIP, and surgical strategies from around the world, to name a few. The plenary session will feature new research on sleeve gastrectomy, diabetes or metabolic surgery, and findings from several randomized clinical trials.

Keynote speakers include Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, one of the world’s leading diabetes researchers, discussing groundbreaking research on the role of developmental genes and miRNAs in the control of body fat. Dr. Jim Marks, the former assistant surgeon general will talk about how society can create a culture of health, and in her address to Integrated Health, Dr. Rebecca Puhl will explore the stigma surrounding obesity and how it affects bariatric care.

We all learned tremendously the history of bariatric surgery from the man who started it all. Bariatric surgery is now commonly being performed for the treatment of severe obesity, but that was not so in the 1960s. The history of bariatric surgery dates back to 1966 when Dr. Mason performed the first gastric bypass at the University of Iowa. The procedure at that time was specifically a Bilroth II loop gastric bypass. That operation was performed similarly to an operation of subtotal gastrectomy with Bilroth II reconstruction that was performed for intractable gastric ulcer disease.

I’m especially excited that Dr. Edward E. Mason, the father of bariatric surgery, will for the first time deliver the Edward E. Mason Founder’s Lecture via live telecast from his home state of Iowa.

Robert Brolin, MD

The ASMBS Foundation will be holding its annual LEAD Awards on Monday, November 3 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Awards will be presented to leaders who have shown superior guidance, training, and dedication in the field of bariatric surgery. Award recipients include Dr. Robert Brolin, Dr. James Mitchell, Dr. Walter Pories, Dr. John Dixon and Dr. Kimberly Steele. I encourage everyone to attend this wonderful event. Tickets may be purchased at the
ASMBS Foundation website.

ObesityWeek 2014 will certainly be the highlight of the year, and what a year it was. This year we were able to advance several initiatives that lay a great foundation for the future.

AMA Resolution and Local Initiatives – Fighting for Improved Access

In June, the American Medical Association (AMA) passed the "Patient Access to Evidence-Based Obesity Services" to help improve patient access to evidence-based obesity treatments including intensive behavioral counseling, FDA-approved obesity drugs and bariatric and metabolic surgery. With this latest resolution, the drum beat for greater access and coverage grows louder and helps foster an environment that will make it increasingly difficult to deny or delay coverage for bariatric surgery. The new resolution came nearly a year after the AMA officially designated obesity a disease and on the same day the ASMBS was afforded a seat in the AMA House of Delegates, the principal policy-making body of
the AMA.

We continue to make strides in improving patient access. The ASMBS and the Carolinas State Chapter worked together to successfully convince Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) to revise its coverage policy. The provider eliminated its six-month requirement for patients to participate in a non-surgical weight reduction program prior to being considered for bariatric surgery and changed its revision policy and duodenal switch patient criteria to be consistent with ASMBS guidelines and recommendations.

In Georgia, a state that cut surgical weight loss from the Georgia State Employees Health Benefit Plan in 2012 reinstated coverage through a two-year pilot program, created through legislation, which was supported by the Georgia Chapter of the ASMBS, among other groups.

National Summit on Obesity

The ASMBS orchestrated a national summit on obesity in September. More than 20 major health and medical organizations including the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, The Obesity Society and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons attended the event and committed to work together to improve and better coordinate care for patients with obesity.

The ASMBS Textbook of Bariatric Surgery

The ASMBS for the first time developed its own two-volume textbook entitled, The ASMBS Textbook of Bariatric Surgery, written and edited by leading experts in the field of bariatric surgery and integrated health. More than 110 of our members contributed to this comprehensive and authoritative guide to bariatric surgery.

ASMBS in the News

The ASMBS was active in help to shape stories around metabolic and bariatric surgery and obesity. Members appeared in news stories from top media outlets including Associated Press (AP), NY Daily News, WebMD, NPR, CBS, NBC, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, MDNews, diabetes publications and many others.

ASMBS Patient Motivational Video

We produced a video featuring three inspirational patients whose lives changed for the better after bariatric surgery. The video, which will premier at ObesityWeek 2014 and be made available to ASMBS members, explores how a former naval officer, a nurse and a formal NFL player overcame their own doubts, misconceptions and fears, as well as those of their family and friends, to stop obesity before it stopped them.


It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your president. I am proud of this organization, the dedication of its members, and the work we have done together. The best is yet to come.