Little more than a month from now, the European Congress on Obesity (ECO2018) promises a global view of obesity. Though it’s a European meeting, the programme offers up a global perspective on this pandemic. A few themes stand out.
Gaps in Understanding Obesity
Obesity has been slower to develop in most of the world compared to the U.S. So naturally, the problems we see with gaps in knowledge about obesity have begun playing out in most other countries. Much of the focus has always been on preventing the progression of this pandemic. But success has been rare.
So now, we find ourselves with much work to do on understanding how to provide care for growing populations of children and adults with obesity. The Congress starts with parallel courses on these very subjects.
Bias Around the World
In addition, it turns out that because of those gaps in understanding obesity around the world, we have an abundance of bias and stigma issues to address. Two major symposia will address this subject, with ConscienHealth presenting new data for comparing the extent of this problem in different parts of the world. Though this problem crops up everywhere, some countries have especially daunting challenges to address.
With sensational headlines in the UK like “Obese Patients Eating Themselves to DEATH,” we’re not surprised to see that bias might be a particular problem there. But these data have many nuances, so stay tuned.
Global Emergence of Obesity Medicine
Diffusion of knowledge about clinical care for obesity has been slow. Much of the effort has gone into the extremes of the clinical spectrum for obesity. On one end, considerable effort goes into prevention. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, success in reversing the trend for ever increasing obesity have been rare or non-existent so far. At the other end of the spectrum, systems for delivering surgical care have developed far faster than the systems for medical obesity care.
The U.S. is first to develop a board certification for specialists in obesity medicine. The rest of the world is beginning to develop training and education programs. In the UK, The College of Contemporary Health and London South Bank University are blazing a trail for training health professionals in obesity care. The WIN. initiative is a model program for nurses that grew out of that collaboration.
Likewise, EASO and ASO offers a Knowledge Transfer Series (KTS) to equip GPs in the UK and across Europe for addressing obesity. Also, the World Obesity Federation now has a core learning path for Specialist Certification of Obesity Professional Education (SCOPE).
For a glimpse of future directions in obesity management, Friday sessions will cover the full range of possibilities. Emerging strategies for public health, nutrition, medicine, and surgery will receive full consideration.
The global health burden of obesity is daunting. We’re encouraged to see work under wayat long last to develop adequate systems for addressing it.