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May 13, 2022

Obesity Medicine 2022 Spring Conference Review

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Dr. Jennifer Ng shares her experience of the Obesity Medicine 2022 spring conference in Atlanta, GA.

Spring is finally in the air, so with that momentum, wait no more and let’s ‘spring into action’ on obesity medicine now. The Obesity Medicine Association’s (OMA) spring conference in Atlanta has just ended, but hopefully, all the exciting connections and information you’ve gotten from the conference will help advance your treatment of patients with obesity. If you haven’t gotten a chance to go or to sign up for the virtual conference, the recordings will be available online for purchase from the OMA Academy website, though it is best to experience this in real-time.

The spring conference kicked off with a great set of speakers, especially keynote speaker Dr. Jason Fung, who taught us all about intermittent fasting/time-restricted eating. He shed light on the pathophysiology of how this convenient, free, popular diet could help our patients with obesity and how to counsel our patients on this, breaking down complex hormonal pathways into simple takeaways while keeping things humorous at the same time. I learned the importance of maintaining low insulin levels to facilitate weight loss and how fasting with a low carbohydrate diet (in between fasts) is an excellent way to do that. Conveniently, it was also good to hear his perspective on the recent article on intermittent fasting that splashed all over the news.

Other highlights include Dr. Michelle Look’s dynamic talk on chair exercises in people with limitations, as well as Dr. Carolynn Francavilla’s discussion of weight management around the time of pregnancy, and Dr. Cate Varney’s recommendations on obesity treatment in peri-menopausal and menopausal women. Let’s not forget Jill Ratanaphruk’s FNP-BC advice on navigating treatment in Asian patients with obesity. Food is deeply connected with culture, and I welcome whatever help I can get to help my patients transition from obesogenic food habits to healthier ones while staying true to their culture. If you’re interested in learning more about how to treat different ethnicities on weight loss, consider also checking out the recently published roundtable articles on this topic from the Obesity Pillars journal. The bottom line, the one-size-fits-all model is out, and the spring conference has given us expert guidance on how to treat a diverse group of patients with obesity, which is sorely needed.

With the rapidly rising incidence of obesity over the past few years, we can all use more help with our patients. Luckily, we learned about exciting new drugs coming down the pipeline, such as tirzepatide and bimagrumab, as explained by Dr. Louis Aronne. I also appreciated hearing about how to tailor our medication treatment for different obesity phenotypes, from Dr. Andres Acosta. Is there ever a more exhilarating time to be involved in obesity medicine? We are seeing the closing of the gap between weight loss produced by surgical procedures vs. medications. Now, if we could also get these medications covered by insurance, that would be the cherry on top.

Is there ever a more exhilarating time to be involved in obesity medicine?

Jennifer Ng, MD, Dipl. ABOM

Reiterating Dr. Katie Queen’s call to action during the conference, we can all do more advocacy, especially with our state health plans. The statistics are shocking – less than half of state employee health plans cover anti-obesity medications. Let’s help get the word out on the importance of medication coverage by insurance, especially with increasingly effective medications available. If you haven’t already, consider joining an OMA committee, such as the advocacy committee or the outreach committee. We need to work on leveraging our power and expertise as medical professionals to help steer public health on obesity treatment.

While there is a lot of work left to be done, it isn’t all work and no play at the OMA conferences, however. These conferences always provide ample opportunities to mingle and meet other obesity medicine providers. This spring conference’s much-anticipated membership reception was held with a backdrop of the beautiful Georgia aquarium. It was quite a surreal experience, eating good food and chatting with the most welcoming and friendly group of medical professionals I’d ever met while surrounded by tanks of exotic fish. As for those looking to get more “physical,” the morning walk and fun run, led by former OMA presidents Drs. Deborah Horn and Craig Primack were unmissable activities. They were also great ways to see Atlanta, almost like getting private tours of the downtown region (including sights like the Centennial Olympic Park, Mercedes Benz Stadium and CNN Center).

With every OMA conference I go to, I always leave feeling invigorated and brimming with new ideas to bring back to my patients – Atlanta is no exception. If you’re an OMA member and haven’t been to a conference recently, make sure you join us for the next one to get a chance to connect and exchange ideas with the world’s leading experts of obesity medicine and other likeminded practitioners so you, too can spring into action during this exciting time. And if you don’t have OMA membership, what are you waiting for?

With every OMA conference I go to, I always leave feeling invigorated and brimming with new ideas to bring back to my patients – Atlanta is no exception.

Jennifer Ng, MD, Dipl. ABOM

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Headshot of Jennifer Ng, MD, DABOM, sitting in a white coat with a lab in the background

Jennifer Ng, MD, DABOM

Dr. Jennifer Ng, Dipl ABOM, is an internist with a secondary specialization in obesity medicine. Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, she teaches medical students and residents regularly. She currently serves as the committee chair of the Obesity Medicine Association’s (OMA) outreach committee, which aims to raise awareness of obesity medicine among patients and the medical community. Previously, she was also a member of the OMA treatment algorithm committee, which published yearly updates to the treatment guidelines for obesity medicine. She is a regular contributor to the OMA’s blog on obesity medicine and is also an associate editor of the OMA journal Obesity Pillars.