Karlijn Burridge, PA-C: Highlights from the Obesity Medicine Association Spring Meeting


A look into the top discussions on the management of obesity at the 2022 OMA Spring Meeting, from new agents to treating special populations.

The complexities of obesity require clinicians and obesity management specialists to treat the disease at its root in order to improve a patient's overall quality of life.

The 2022 Obesity Medicine Association Spring Meeting focused on providing practical strategies to treat obesity and related conditions in primary care, specialty, or obesity medicine practices.

In an interview with HCPLive, Karlijn Burridge, PA-C, Fellow, Obesity Management Association, highlighted the topics discussed at the meeting and explained why they were presented by experts in the field.

"I think the overall theme if I had to come up with one is just that obesity is it's a complex disease state that requires a lot of the different pillars of obesity treatment," Burridge said. "We need to be talking to our patients about things like nutrition, physical activity, sleep stress behavior modification, and pharmacotherapy."

Burridge discussed new advancements in obesity medicine, particularly new anti-obesity medications.

"This is a very exciting time in obesity medicine," Burridge said. "We are seeing a lot of new medications that are currently being studied and new medications on the market."

She went on to underline special populations in obesity management, from a rise in the pediatric population to disordered eating and how race and ethnicity may play a role in individualizing obesity treatment.

Burridge additionally noted the key role of physical activity in weight maintenance and overall wellness, as well as using nutrition as a tool.

"We know that physical activity plays such an important role and it's so important that all providers learn and get more comfortable about how to talk to their patients about nutrition, physical activity and how they can incorporate these types of things into their treatment plans," she said. "Unfortunately, these are not things that we're typically taught in our general training as medical providers."

Obesity rates are rising at rapid rates, with Burridge explaining that it is predicted that about 50% of the United States population will have obesity by 2030. She pointed out that these numbers were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the timeline may be shorter than anticipated.

She noted the importance of addressing the myths and misconceptions surrounding obesity as a lifestyle choice and how important it is to get the message out that obesity is a chronic medical condition.

"We have a lot of the science now, but it's so important that the public and that health care providers, and everybody starts to learn about the science and understand that obesity truly is a chronic disease," Burridge said. "Because we know that if we treat obesity, all of the 236 potential medical complications of obesity get better as well."

Burridge concluded by discussing topics that are often overlooked by clinicians, including sleep and stress, and the importance of being cognizant of a patient's sleep quality and stress in treating obesity.

"We certainly know that especially in the last couple of years, people have been under a lot of stress and stress levels have been increasing and sleep has been decreasing," Burridge said. "...It's also important for us to help our patients with their stress management because that also plays such an important role in obesity management."

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