The most prevalent and expensive disease in the world, obesity is a problem that we must aim to solve. I believe food is the way to do so, since nutrition is the cornerstone of both wellness and a spectrum of diseases. As healthcare professionals, it is critical that we learn about the nutritional status and habits of our patients and use food as medicine to help treat illnesses, especially chronic non-communicable diseases like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
Prioritizing Patient Nutrition
The first step to patient nutrition is initiating conversations and taking detailed notes. Clinicians should add nutritional information to the historical and physical status of each patient, noting each individual’s unique diet, food choices, and preferences. This information will prove invaluable when prescribing a personalized diet intervention.
Overcoming Obesity Misconceptions
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions related to nutrition and obesity among patients and clinicians alike. Many believe that obesity is a behavioral disease and that individuals with obesity simply lack the willingness to lose weight. As clinicians know, obesity is a biological disease with pathophysiological changes that predispose an individual to both gain weight and have difficulty losing it.
This misconception must evolve into a new understanding of the pathophysiological changes that occur in obesity in the brain-gut-adipose axis. Once we fully understand obesity as a disease, both patients and clinicians can better seek evidence-based therapies to counter these pathophysiological abnormalities.
No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
In the treatment of obesity, the one-size-fits-all approach is not working. I believe that precision medicine for obesity will help identify the “right intervention for the right patient.” With this approach, we can enhance weight loss and individually tackle the pathophysiology of obesity.
Chronic, relapsing, and multifactorial, obesity features significant individual variability in response to therapeutic interventions. I’m eager to discuss this topic further at Obesity Medicine Association’s (OMA) fall conference, Overcoming Obesity 2022, offered both in person (October 12-16) or virtually (November 2-5). My session will delve into the heterogeneity of human obesity and identify predictors of response to weight loss interventions. Specifically, my team and I are evaluating four potential pathophysiologic and behavioral obesity phenotypes: abnormal satiation, abnormal postprandial satiety, abnormal emotional eating, and abnormal resting energy expenditure. We hypothesize that obesity-related phenotypes may predict weight loss through an individualized lifestyle intervention based on a tailored Mayo Clinic diet program.
To register for Overcoming Obesity 2022, the event for healthcare professionals looking to hone their skills and connect with industry leaders treating patients with obesity today, visit https://obesitymedicine.org/fall/pricing.