Seven years ago, I realized medical school hadn't taught me the newest science in weight loss. So I went to my first Fundamentals of Obesity course hosted by the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA). I was amazed by what I learned about obesity during the one-day course. Obesity science connected all the dots in the metabolic diseases I saw in primary care practice. I became an active member of OMA and started attending the Overcoming Obesity Conference annually. In 2016 I passed the American Board of Obesity Medicine.
Fast forward to Fall 2022, during the Overcoming Obesity Anaheim Conference,
I became a fellow in the Obesity Medicine Association and the newest OMA Board of Trustees member.
I'm so grateful for all I have learned about obesity medicine. It's equipped me to transform my health and innovate new ways to help my patients and clients. And I continue to learn more as the science of obesity continues to develop.
For example, in October 2022, I attended the Overcoming Obesity Conference in Anaheim, CA. There were so many gems of information shared during the conference. I just had to let the world know. So I enjoyed live tweeting during the sessions.
In case you missed my tweets, I want to share the
Top 8 Take home points from OMA 2022 here on the Embrace You Blog!
1. Lifestyle Changes May Not Be Enough-
"Stop saying 'failed lifestyle changes. People don't fail with lifestyle modification. People need different tools." Dr. Angela Fitch, President OMA. As a champion of personalized healthcare, I appreciated this discussion. Lifestyle changes like food, fitness, and self-care are the foundation of weight loss and metabolic improvement. But people may need more tools if they have significant weight loss goals and many weight gain triggers activated.
2. "Weight Loss" Medications Are Only Getting Better-
Our understanding of the science of obesity medicine continues to expand. With understanding comes innovation. The newest anti-obesity medications (AOMs), or as they are commonly called, "weight loss" medications are safer and more effective than previous generations of AOMs. For example, GLP-1 medications such as semaglutide ( ex Ozempic, Wegovy, Saxenda) mimics the body's natural satiation pathway and improves glucose control. This helps decrease appetite and improve weight loss. It also highlights how AOMs do more than just cause weight loss. AOMs also help improve metabolic health. This is why I prefer the term "metabolic medications" to "weight loss medications" or "anti-obesity medications." But I'll save this discussion for another day. Dr. Donna H. Ryan, MD gave an excellent presentation on "The Future of Anti-Obesity Medications" that included past, present, and future pharmacological treatments for obesity (see slide above).
3. More than Weight Loss, Focus on Metabolic Health Improvement
Obesity is associated with over 236 diseases. Sometimes doctors and clinicians only focus on weight loss without appreciating the non-scale victories. Treating obesity also improves metabolic health risks and overall quality of life. It's not just about numbers on a scale. Dr. Tiffany Lowe Clayton shared this significant slide in her insightful discussion on "Shared Medical Appointments: Understanding Essentials to Successful Group Visits in Obesity Medicine."
4. Lose Extra Body Fat, Not Muscle -
Not all weight loss is created equal. Losing too much muscle is also harmful and can be counterproductive. Muscle loss slows your metabolism. The risk of muscle loss also highlights why we need more than BMI to monitor "healthy weight." Knowing body composition helps ensure any weight loss plan targets appropriate levels of fat loss while keeping muscle.
5. Mental Healthcare Is Essential To Obesity Care-
The body-mind-spirit connection is real. I was glad mental health was addressed throughout the conference. One of my favorite slides was these simple eating disorder questions presented by Dr. Stephanie Soggs from Harvard Medicine.
Dr. Alicia Shelly also highlighted how "mindset and motivation are the elephants in the [exam] room" during obesity treatment sessions.
6. Stop Exercising. Start Moving More-
If you've read my best seller "Embrace You: Your Guide to Transforming Weight Loss Misconceptions Into Lifelong Wellness, " you already know I love this topic. Dr. John Jakicic presented the latest science on physical activity for effective weight loss and maintenance. Transforming your mindset about physical activity was one of his top tips. He also reminded the audience that what type of exercise you do doesn't matter as much as just doing any exercise.
7. Lipedema vs. Obesity -
Lipedema, a condition of fat accumulation in the arms and legs, is not the same as obesity. Some symptoms of lipedema include painful or lumpy/ hard fat tissue. Dr. Karen Herbst is a lipedema expert, and she shared the BEST lecture I've ever heard on the topic.
8. Individualized Treatment For Each Person-
We continue to learn more and more about obesity. However, the more we know, the more it emphasizes one crucial point- every person is unique. There is no "one size fits all" approach to weight loss, wellness, and obesity care.
Most lectures emphasized this, but three key sessions drove this point home.
Dr. Harold Bays and his colleagues' presentation on Body composition.
Dr. Andres Acosta is working on fascinating research on using obesity phenotypes to decide the best obesity treatment.
Lastly, Dr. Faith Newsome shared her insightful journey from teenage obesity requiring bariatric surgery at age 16 to obesity research and patient advocate.
I could share so much more, but I don't want to bore you too much. So I'll switch gears and say we didn't only study. We're cool nerds, lol. Outside of our scientific session, we also had fun!
I love connecting with passionate clinicians and researchers from all over the world. We also practice what we teach.
The fun run and Walk with The Experts are two of my favorite traditions at the OMA Conference. The camaraderie doesn't end at the conference. I enjoy staying connected with my mentees and OMA colleagues through the committees such as DEI and membership and now the Board of Trustees.
Lastly I had time to connect with some of my West Coast family, including my newest nephew-in-law. I love learning up-to-date information at conferences. But it was good to come home.
Baby Girl had made a beautiful paper crown for me.
She and her brother were eager for my return with the Disney souvenirs I brought back.
Now that I'm home, I'm looking forward to continuing Embrace You Weight & Wellness' innovative work and applying some of the latest obesity care tips I learned to the program.
Will you be there?
What was you favorite obesity update I shared in this blog post?
Join Dr. Sylvia on Saturday, October 29th at 9 AM EST for "3 Weight LossSecrets You Must Know". Register here.