It is rare that an article hits upon many of the complexities of obesity, but a recent Huffington Post article calls the science into sharp relief- and also asks why are we still thinking about obesity in old ways?
The article calls for a paradigm shift in how we approach the complexity and also calls out the damaging impacts of weight bias. Changing the paradigm needs to start in medical school. Training on nutrition needs to be more robust than the 15-19 hours that most medical schools offer today. The Bipartisan Policy Centers has worked with partners to develop core competencies that need to be in place to support efforts to prevent and treat obesity. It provides a clear roadmap for what is necessary to deliver superior services to people living with obesity. Providers can also seek board certification in Obesity Medicine which provides additional training on the complex nature of obesity and how to best treat it.
In many ways, the knowledge is out there but not held in places that can reflect and lift the science. Added to this is the variable reimbursement for services related to obesity; which has been an enormous barrier. Recent moves by the Center to Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) for eligible Medicare enrollees are welcome additions to coverage as it re-sets the standard for intensive behavioral therapy to the right dose to improve health. The gold standard is 5% weight loss to show improvements in blood sugar and other cardiovascular markers like blood pressure etc.
From Weight Loss to Wellness?
Another interesting development this week is Weight Watchers re-branding to WW to broaden beyond weight loss to wellness. WW is also partnering with Headspace to embed meditation into the WW journey which signals intent to move into other areas of wellness. How current WW members will receive this remains to be seen, but we see shifts as digital therapeutics get more traction from consumers and healthcare organizations and these approaches can scale and spread more readily than traditional face to face methods. Both are necessary.
Obesity Action Coalition
The Obesity Action Coalition provides guidance and practical support for people living with obesity on how to navigate the complex healthcare environment and how to locate providers who have expertise in treating the disease. If you are trying to put your plan together it is a great place to start.
Huffington Post Article on Obesity
Obesity Action Coalition