January 25, 2023
3 min read
The Obesity Medicine Association’s conference is always the must-attend event for health care providers to learn the latest advancements in obesity medicine and connect with colleagues at the forefront of treating patients with obesity.
The 2022 Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) fall conference was no different and featured a lineup packed with expert-led sessions and information about the latest innovations in obesity medicine and treatments.
The theme was “Overcoming Obesity,” and the conference was held both virtually and in person in Anaheim, California, in October. I joined hundreds of OMA members and obesity medicine clinicians to explore the future of obesity care, with discussions on elevating patient experiences, understanding the carbohydrate-insulin model debate and other topics relevant to obesity medicine right now.
While there were many standout sessions and memorable speakers, I found Dr. Robert Lustig’s keynote, “The BIG picture: NAFLD, the sentinel disease of metabolic syndrome,” to be especially thought-provoking. In the discussion, Dr. Lustig covered mitochondrial dysfunction, fatty liver and metabolic derangements in depth. He explained biochemical pathways and described how to use lifestyle strategies to protect liver function (eg, reducing fructose, total sugar intake, glycemic load and environmental toxins) in a clear and insightful manner.
Some other highlights from the OMA fall conference included:
Phenotype-guided obesity management
Dr. Andres Acosta explained that approximately 40% of adults are affected by obesity and the prevalence of the disease is projected to continue to rise. Existing obesity treatments are not consistently effective, and the current “one-size-fits-all” approach to obesity care does not work. Dr. Acosta described obesity as a complex and heterogeneous disease with multiple phenotypes contributing to patient outcomes. He shared research that found that phenotype-guided classification and intervention can lead to weight loss and positive outcomes for patients with obesity. Additionally, obesity phenotypes can be measured with a simple blood test. Expect to hear more about phenotype-guided lifestyle intervention at the spring conference.
Recognizing and treating lipedema
Dr. Karen Herbst shared insights on lipedema and explained why the condition is different from other adiposity-related disorders. Lipedema is a misunderstood disease that is often misdiagnosed as lifestyle-induced obesity, confused with lymphedema or fibromyalgia. She shared that lipedema tissue has a distinct distribution of pathologic tissue that differs from non-lipedema obesity. This is why it requires a comprehensive care and treatment approach that includes:
- reducing lipedema and non-lipedema tissue with bariatric procedures;
- decreasing inflammation through diet, exercise and supplements;
- addressing vein disease via vascular surgery or a phlebologist;
- breaking down fibrotic connective tissue structure with certified lymphatic therapy; and
- focusing on mental health with psychology/psychiatry support.
Lipedema is a complex inflammatory disease that can be painful — both physically and emotionally — and a condition that confounds many health care providers.
CBD for obesity?
Dr. Jeff Sicat detailed the physiology of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a vast network of chemical signals and cellular receptors that are densely packed throughout our brains, our nervous system and our body. The ECS regulates extensive body functions including appetite, learning and memory, sleep, mood, immune function, inflammation, pain sensation, digestion and many more. Dr. Sicat shared research about how plant-derived phytocannabinoids and cannabidiol (CBD) may affect multiple metabolic features and lead to weight loss. More studies are being conducted on CBD efficacy as an obesity treatment, but the findings certainly are intriguing.
In addition to the powerful, informative sessions, I also found the discussions about incorporating plant-based nutrition, motivational interviewing and innovative behavior change strategies to be extremely insightful and helpful tools in obesity and weight management today.
As an internist and practicing academic obesity medicine consultant and active member of OMA, I enjoyed the outstanding speakers. It was an honor to be with so many leaders in obesity medicine and to discuss how we can work together to champion the advancement of obesity medicine. I am already looking forward to the 2023 conference in April and to continuing these crucial conversations about obesity medicine, today and in the future.
For more information and to become a member of OMA, visit: https://obesitymedicine.org/join.
- Acosta A. Phenotype-guided lifestyle intervention for obesity management. https://academy.obesitymedicine.org/products/phenotype-guided-lifestyle-intervention-for-obesity-management-recorded. Presented at: Overcoming Obesity; Oct. 12-16, 2022; Anaheim, Calif. (hybrid meeting).
- CDC. Adult obesity facts. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. Accessed Jan. 1, 2023.
- Herbst K. Emerging from the shadows – recognizing and treating lipedema. https://academy.obesitymedicine.org/products/emerging-from-the-shadows-recognizing-and-treating-lipedema-recorded. Presented at: Overcoming Obesity; Oct. 12-16, 2022; Anaheim, Calif. (hybrid meeting).
- Lustig R. The BIG picture — NAFLD, the sentinel disorder of metabolic syndrome (Recorded). https://academy.obesitymedicine.org/products/the-big-picture-nafld-the-sentinel-disorder-of-metabolic-syndrome-recorded. Presented at: Overcoming Obesity; Oct. 12-16, 2022; Anaheim, Calif. (hybrid meeting).
- Sicat J. CBD for obesity? Our patients are asking! A review of the current science. https://academy.obesitymedicine.org/products/cbd-for-obesity-our-patients-are-asking-a-review-of-the-current-science-recorded. Presented at: Overcoming Obesity; Oct. 12-16, 2022; Anaheim, Calif. (hybrid meeting).