Looking ahead at obesity medicine in 2021

December 14, 2020
Ethan Lazarus, MD, FOMA

We’re optimistic about the coming opportunities to move our field forward

As this year comes to a close, it offers clinicians a chance to reflect on the current state of obesity medicine and look ahead to what’s next. The COVID-19 crisis will still be top of mind forcing our field to continue to adapt — this will be particularly true for our colleagues involved in obesity treatment.

Patients with obesity are at a significantly higher risk of adverse health outcomes as a result of COVID-19, and these dedicated healthcare professionals play a vital role in helping to stem one of our country’s most pressing public health concerns.

Of course, the ongoing pandemic isn’t the only thing that will impact obesity medicine in 2021. Clinicians and other healthcare professionals can also expect:

Better approaches. Better treatments: Our understanding of obesity has continued to grow, and the coming year will see that advanced knowledge launch the field forward with more effective treatment options. We’ve learned the pitfalls of telling patients with obesity to eat less, move more. We now recognize that obesity is a chronic disease — a critical moment that will inform future obesity treatment practices. Chronic diseases call for long-term treatment. You can expect clinical best practices in 2021 to include recommendations for long-term treatment plans.

Telemedicine will continue to rise: Healthcare was unprepared to quickly adapt to a public health crisis that created barriers to in-person patient care. An industry as critical as healthcare can not be as ill-equipped to meet modern challenges again. Looking ahead, we can expect the industry to make greater strides towards fully integrating this important technology into our practices to deliver more frictionless patient care experiences and improved health outcomes.

A resolution to get healthier: Each new year, patients set specific weight loss goals or resolve to make this the year they finally lose the weight. While clinicians shouldn’t discourage healthy weight loss, they should consider encouraging patients to adopt a more sustainable and practical resolution: to simply get healthier. Focusing on actionable behaviors that support lifelong health are much more likely to yield positive lifelong results, like eating better, engaging in physical activity, reducing stress, and improving sleep.

Clinicians and surgeons can also use the approaching new year to set professional resolutions to help move our field forward and The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) wants to be a partner in that effort.

Staying up to date on medical trends is important to stay competitive and best serve patients in every medical field and ours is no different. OMA created the Obesity Algorithm to provide clinicians with the comprehensive and most up to date clinical guidance to do just that. OMA also created the Self-Assessment Program (SAP), a comprehensive self-exam, to facilitate self-study in an effective — and engaging way. It’s an excellent companion to OMA’s Obesity Algorithm and OMA’s review course for the American Board of Obesity Medicine exam.

Another great place to continue your education are at conferences that focus on the study of treating obesity. They’re the perfect place to tap into a professional network while gaining knowledge in advanced obesity medicine. OMA has two world class conferences each year where you can soak up the latest obesity medicine breakthroughs, discover new evidence-based approaches to bring into your practice, and develop valuable professional connections.

Like every year, we can expect to face some unique challenges in 2021. But we’re optimistic about the coming opportunities to move our field forward, we’re excited about making a positive impact in our communities, and we’re committed to delivering better health outcomes for our patients in 2021 and beyond.

To learn more about OMA or to become a member, visit: www.obesitymedicine.org.

Ethan Lazarus, MD, FOMA, is the President-Elect of the Obesity Medicine Association. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, and a Fellow of the Obesity Medicine Association. He runs the Clinical Nutrition Center in Greenwood Village, Colorado, where he has practiced full-time obesity medicine since 2004.