Blog Training & Education

Society’s New Obesity Fellows Program Addresses Gaps in Clinical Practice

October 02, 2023

By Andrea Quiles-Sanchez, 
Manager of In-Training and Fellows Programming

Improving the treatment and care of endocrinology-related diseases and conditions is a key mission of the Society. This mission lies behind the creation of our Obesity Fellows Program, which we are proud to launch this month. 

On October 20 and 21, 35 fellows from around the United States will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet and learn from top experts in obesity care and management through facilitated discussions with faculty and peers. This fellowship program aims to give these health care practitioners (HCPs) the confidence, resources, and experience needed to treat patients who are living with the chronic condition of obesity. 

Our Obesity Fellows Program also aims to address a significant unmet need.

Obesity is a complex, multifactorial, chronic disease that increases the risk of other conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, arthritis, depression, and certain types of cancer. 

The prevalence of obesity is increasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, 22 states had at least 35% of adults with obesity, compared with zero states 10 years ago, CDC noted in a new report.

Despite increased treatment options, many endocrinologists and other HCPs lack assuredness in talking with patients about obesity, prescribing anti-obesity medications, and managing the potential side effects and ongoing weight maintenance practices following obesity surgery. 

As a result, obesity remains underdiagnosed and not adequately addressed in clinical practice. We address this practice gap in part by focusing on unmet needs in treatment. 

These needs include acknowledgement that:

  • Obesity is a disease: Some HCPs still view obesity as a lifestyle condition that people need to self-manage. 
  • Weight biases exist: Some HCPs hold negative views towards people with obesity, a bias that can interfere with effective obesity management. 
  • Motivational interviewing skills are needed to treat obesity: To be most effective, HCPs need specific interviewing skills on obesity to initiate chronic weight management conversations and/or shared decision-making regarding evidence-based obesity treatments. 
  • Negative views of earlier anti-obesity medications hinder today’s therapy options: Some HCPs remain reluctant to utilize the new crop of anti-obesity medications due to biases with earlier, less-effective therapies. 
  • Training is needed in evaluating clinical indications for bariatric surgery: Some HCPs remain unfamiliar with this potential treatment option and are unsure when to refer appropriate patients.

Led by obesity medicine specialist and program chair Amy Rothberg, MD, DABOM, the expert faculty   leading our fellowship will address all of these needs and more through a clinical practice approach that treats obesity in a comprehensive and holistic way. Specific learning objectives include: 

  • Discussing obesity as a multifactorial, chronic, complex disease.  
  • Examining strategies for opening discussions about obesity, and the effect of weight bias on patients. 
  • Applying updated knowledge of obesity pathophysiology when developing treatment plans. 
  • Evaluating recommendations for specialized diets, physical activity, and other behavioral changes for weight management. 
  • Managing anti-obesity medications to achieve sustained weight loss and reduce the risk of comorbid disease, paying particular attention to short- and long-term management concerns. 
  • Discussing the risks and benefits of weight loss procedures and surgeries.

Once the in-person workshop is completed, a series of on-demand lectures and a podcast will be available to all HCPs, as education on this topic is invaluable regardless of career stage. The lectures will be available for free on the Center for Learning, and accredited for 3.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and 3.0 ABIM MOC Points.

Demand Rises for Obesity Care Training

We were not surprised the slots for our fellowship program filled quickly, as we know the field of obesity care is rapidly growing. Many participants expressed interest in eventually running their own obesity clinics, and they want the training to seek American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) certification. 

Our program will fill an educational need that’s currently not being addressed in many local fellowships. Based on our first class of Obesity Fellows, we know that (1) most local fellowship programs lack an obesity component, and (2) applicants are limited in their experiences with prescribing anti-obesity medications.

The Obesity Fellows program will ensure the next generation of endocrinologists are equipped to apply cutting-edge obesity management practices and recommendations. We are proud of this cutting-edge fellowship, and we’d like to express our gratitude to funders Lilly USA, LLC and Novo Nordisk, who have made the program possible.

For more on the Society's overall obesity efforts, visit Focus on Obesity

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