35 Medical Organizations Gather for
ASMBS Second Annual National Obesity Summit

Published in September/October 2015 Issue             

In September, representatives from 35 major health and medical organizations, including the American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Medical Association (AMA), American Heart Association (AHA), American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), convened in Chicago at the second annual National Obesity Summit on the Provision of Care for the Obese Patient.

Participants discussed ways that different health specialties and organizations can improve collaboration when caring for individuals affected by obesity. The Summit was orchestrated and hosted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

“We represent many different specialties, backgrounds and perspectives, but we’re all really treating the same disease,” said John M. Morton, MD, MPH, ASMBS President, who served as moderator for the Summit. “That’s why there is intense and growing interest in how we can work together to better help our patients with obesity. Obesity is the medical equivalent of economic inflation - obesity increases costs and decreases the effectiveness of medical interventions. We are paying for obesity already, so let’s coordinate and provide care the right way.”

Summit participants discussed obesity prevention and treatment strategies, patient access to treatment, the continuum of care, and opportunities to coordinate care among medical specialties that include obesity medicine, surgery, orthopaedics, nutrition, behavioral health, endocrinology and diabetes, sleep medicine, dentistry
and oncology.

“Treating obesity is central to the management of type 2 diabetes,” said William Herman, MD, MPH, who represented the American Diabetes Association. “Medical care is so siloed. We need to move from a piecemeal approach to one that is
more comprehensive.”

Recently the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association issued a joint scientific statement on cardiovascular disease in adults with type 2 diabetes, which for the first time includes discussion and recommendations on bariatric and metabolic surgery, and focuses on blood pressure and blood glucose control, cholesterol management, aspirin therapy, and weight management through lifestyle, pharmacological and surgical approaches.

“This is a big step forward with the ADA embracing obesity treatment,” said Dr. Morton.

Another group that is becoming increasingly focused on obesity treatment is the 35,000-member American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. Last October, ASCO called for increased education, research and advocacy “to reduce the toll of obesity, both as a leading cause of cancer and complication in the care of cancer patients.”

Jennifer Ligibel, MD

Jennifer Ligibel, MD, who leads the ASCO Energy Balance Working Group, presented data at the Summit illustrating a strong connection between obesity and cancer, a connection she says is not well recognized, especially in the general population. “Over the next 20 years, obesity is likely to be the most preventable cause of cancer,” Dr. Ligibel stated.

Dr. Ligibel shared that she envisions potential collaborations in research, education and policy activities.

Collaboration was the key word in most discussions. Old relationships were strengthened and new ones forged as the groups discussed how they could work together to improve patient care through a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to obesity.

“The AASM recognizes that healthy sleep helps prevent obesity, and that helping our patients with obesity lose weight is an integral part of sleep apnea treatment. This conference is a great step towards whole person healthcare,” said Timothy I. Morgenthaler, MD, Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine and past president, American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

“We are thankful to be included in the Summit. The dental office can play an important role in assessing for and monitoring chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, which are significantly linked to obesity,” said Lindsey Robinson, DDS, who represented the American Dental Association. “Dental care professionals can be an important part of the multidisciplinary care approach to manage patients with chronic diseases and reduce obesity prevalence in society.”

The luncheon keynoter, Jon R. Friedman, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Complex Medical Conditions programs at Optum, told attendees that a more seamless healthcare delivery system that looks at the patient holistically is needed, and that long-term financial disincentives must be eliminated to help make that happen. “We’ve got everybody here, but we’re all not working together yet, and that’s where we need to be,” Dr. Friedman said.

Many said the AMA’s classification of obesity as a disease brings a new critical focus and sense of urgency regarding obesity prevention and treatment to the general public, healthcare professionals, payers and policymakers.

“It’s important that we work together with physicians at all levels,” said Mary Anne McCaffree, MD, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees, who said the AMA will focus new efforts on prediabetes and detecting hypertension as part of an overall strategic initiative. “We do none of this alone, but in a collaborative effort.”

Dr. Stacy Brethauer and Dr. Shanu Kothari served as co-chairs of the Summit. Other ASMBS representatives in attendance included Dr. Raul Rosenthal, Dr. Ninh Nguyen, Dr. Alfons Pomp, Chris Bauer, MSN, RN, CBN and Karen Flanders, MSN, ARNP, CBN.

Planned activities from the Summit include the development of joint guidelines and symposia, a Healthy Hospital Initiative, an obesity treatment app, an educational curriculum, and collaboration on a legislative agenda, among other initiatives.

“I come away excited and energized by the possibilities and this is the time and place to start to treat this disease in a more comprehensive and multidisciplinary fashion. It’s going to take all of us,” said Dr. Morton.

National Obesity Summit on the Provision of Care for the Obese Patient Participating Organizations

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD)
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist (AACE)
American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
American College of Gastroenterology (ACG)
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM)
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
American College of Surgeons (ACS)
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
American Dental Association (ADA)
American Diabetes Association (ADA)
American Heart Association (AHA)
American Medical Association (AMA)
American Psychological Association (APA)
American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA)
American Society for Bariatric Physicians (ASBP)
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE)
American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
Endocrine Society
International Society for the Perioperative Care of the Obese Patient (ISPCOP)
National Lipid Association (NLA)
Obesity Action Coalition (OAC)
Strategies to Overcome & Prevent Obesity Alliance (STOP)
The Obesity Society (TOS)
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Pacific Business Group on Health
Willis-Towers Watson