MEET OUR ADULT COMS: Center of Obesity Management, Biomedical Research Center Slovak Academy of Sciences

MEET OUR ADULT COMS: Center of Obesity Management, Biomedical Research Center Slovak Academy of Sciences

We are delighted to introduce Prof. Barbara Ukropcova, lead of the Biomedical Research Center Slovak Academy of Sciences, a COM specialising in adult obesity management in Slovakia. This multidisciplinary team includes 6 physicians, 3 physiotherapists, 4 nutritional specialists, 5 physical activity trainers, 2 psychologists, and up to 8 scientists (depending on active research projects). Some members of this COMs team are pictured below on World Obesity Day 2024. As well as delivering comprehensive obesity management to patients, this COM conducts biomedical research with a translational component, bringing novel observations to clinical practice and direct benefits for patients by aiming to improve standard care.

Thank you for participating in the Meet the COMs initiative, Prof. Ukropcova. Could you please describe the services your COM offers to patients, and your COM’s patient care philosophy?

Our COM offers complex lifestyle interventions tailored to each patient, including individualized nutritional counselling, cognitive-behavioural coaching, physiotherapy, supervised exercise training, psychological evaluation and counselling, pharmacotherapy, and bariatric surgery within an established framework of obesity management and collaborative network, as needed. We aim to raise awareness among our patients about the significance of behavioural modification and share our knowledge with them to enhance their understanding of the positive effects of obesity management on overall health. Our motto is to learn, understand, modify, and sustain, and we strive to provide comprehensive long-term support to our patients. A recent study that resonated with us is by Kierkegaard-Brochnet et al. (2023), titled ‘The outcome of a multicomponent lifestyle intervention in patients with obesity: A cohort study’. This study showed the effectiveness of a multicomponent lifestyle intervention for patients with obesity. Importantly, education and improving patient coping strategies are crucial for sustaining the effects of these interventions, and we strive to implement this approach in our COM.

What updates from work in your COM during the past 12 months can you share?

In 2023, our COM successfully completed another cohort of a clinical intervention study focusing on the effects and molecular mechanisms of complex lifestyle interventions for obesity, in middle-aged adults living with obesity with relatively sedentary lifestyles. Additionally, we initiated a collaborative project with a health insurance company aimed at integrating lifestyle interventions as standard care for patients living with obesity. Our COM also secured funding for a collaborative project with partners from Charles University, Prague, Czechia, which examines the parameters and determinants of metabolic flexibility in individuals with obesity.

Our COM team presented the results of our ongoing research at ECO2023 in Dublin as well as at ECO2024 in Venice. Our team also participated in various awareness campaigns on obesity for the general public, and in conferences for healthcare professionals in Slovakia to promote the implementation of comprehensive obesity management in clinical practice. We closely collaborate with multidisciplinary Slovak Obesity Association and actively participate in activities for both healthcare professionals and lay public. Furthermore, our COM team published several research papers, including:

Thank you for sharing! Could you please describe education and training activities that your COM participates in or provides to students?

We actively participate in teaching and activities aimed at promoting awareness about obesity, including an online obesitology course, World Obesity Day, and annual Slovak obesity conferences. Our COM organises workshops on complex obesity management for healthcare professionals, including those working in the Slovak Regional Institutes of Public Health, to promote comprehensive and research-informed obesity management in clinical practice. Additionally, we train PhD students in clinical and basic research related to obesity, in the frame of a PhD program at the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Bratislava. Our staff members attend courses, workshops, online courses, and conferences, and engage in short scientific missions supported by NSP-SR mobility grants.

This edition highlighted the Adult COM at the Center of Obesity Management, Biomedical Research Center Slovak Academy of Sciences, led by Prof. Barbara Ukropcova. It showcased the COM’s multidisciplinary approach to adult obesity management, emphasizing tailored lifestyle interventions with focus on enhancing the knowledge of patients, and active involvement in translational research. Prof. Ukropcova shared recent accomplishments from this COM, including progress of successful clinical studies, collaborative projects, published research studies and educational initiatives. Thank you, Prof. Ukropcova!