We are pleased to share this excellent review of ZoomForward22 – the 29th European Congress on Obesity, prepared by editors of the European Medical Journal. The review includes spotlights on some of the key research presented at the Congress. We are grateful to the authors for including this focus on obesity. The write up includes special features on obesity management guidelines updates and the impact of COVID19 on childhood and adolescent obesity.
SHARING insights on the theme of obesity, the 29th European Congress on Obesity (ECO) was jointly hosted by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) and International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders European Chapter (IFSO-EC).
Maastricht is the oldest city in the Netherlands and, with its proximity to cutting-edge facilities for obesity research, it provided an excellent physical space to hold Zoom Forward 2022. The hybrid format ensured that those not yet able to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic could still attend. Those attending virtually were encouraged to collaborate across platforms.
In a forward-thinking approach, the organisers invited 32 ‘lived experience’ patient representatives from 17 countries across Europe. These individuals, advocating for other patients with obesity, were keen to share their experiences and to foster connections with healthcare professionals.
EASO Congress Chair, Gijs Goossens, joint Chair of the congress alongside Ronald Liem from IFSO-EC, began by speaking about the plenary opening lecture at Zoom Forward 2022. In this session, obesity was described as a “complex, multifactorial, chronically relapsing disease that acts as a gateway to many other common diseases.” Goossens believes that obesity “requires a multidisciplinary, personalised approach” in order to aid patients with the most effective treatment pathways, tailored to their individual needs. The congress programme supported this, with dedicated sessions, collaborative workshops, presentations, and keynote lectures dedicated to many aspects of obesity research and its treatment.
In the introductory session, a nod was given to European obesity professionals, who number around 20,000. These individuals work across a range of areas, from scientists, early career researchers, and students, to healthcare professionals and physicians working in the field.
In this supplement, you will find comprehensive coverage of this year’s event. Summaries of some of the most intriguing keynote lectures are included. Perhaps most topical was a session that focused on severe obesity compromising the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations, presented by Volkan Demirhan Yumuk and colleagues from Istanbul University, Turkey. One hundred and thirty-two participants were included in the study, which found that antibody responses to vaccination were significantly lower in this population. Another very relevant feature discussed at the congress is research which shows that vegan diets boost weight loss and lower blood sugar in individuals with obesity, and in those who have Type 2 diabetes.
At Zoom Forward 2022, several sessions were compiled under the theme of childhood obesity, with a particular focus on the Dutch approach to the disease. The programme included fascinating sessions on ‘Amplifying the obesogenic environment lessons learned from the COVID epidemic’ and ‘Metabolic associated fatty liver disease in children’. There is also a lot to learn from the invaluable session entitled ‘MDT approach to screening, indication and follow-up’.
The scientific programme was far-reaching and took into account many aspects of obesity. Indeed, the congress content was organised into five separate broad ‘tracks’, which covered basic science; behavioural and public health; childhood and adolescent obesity; management and intervention; and metabolic surgery. Areas of the extensive programme covered emerging and experimental techniques; new surgical advances; nutrition and the role of dieticians in primary care; mental health and stigma experienced by patients with obesity; genetic, environmental, and risk factors for patients with obesity; patient phenotyping; the impacts of obesity upon fertility; and several sessions on different aspects of metabolism and obesity, amongst other pertinent topics.
We hope that this comprehensive selection of congress highlights covered in this supplement will aid healthcare professionals in the care of patients with obesity, both in regard to advances in treatment approaches and further understanding of the very complex web of comorbidities that can be experienced alongside this disease.