It’s no secret that the United States is a facing an obesity epidemic. One in three people are considered to be obese, with a body mass index of 30 or greater. However, many of those affected are members of underserved populations, including those from rural geographic areas, certain low socioeconomic backgrounds or certain minority ethnic groups.
Finding ways to address weight management in these populations can be challenging; however a Saturday Meet-the Experts session “Weight Management in Underserved Populations” should help bring some of those challenges to light and allow attendees to learn how to best initiate conversations and help their patients reach their goals.
“Treating obesity is a challenge in and of itself. When you think about some of the individual aspects of how you want to approach patients, considering their background in the fact that they sometimes come from disadvantaged backgrounds or certain cultural considerations makes it more challenging or nuanced,” said Jamy D. Ard, MD, Professor of Epidemiology and Prevention and Co-Director of the Weight Management Center at Wake Forest School of Medicine. He will present the session at 2:15 pm Saturday in Room 16A and again at 4:45 pm Saturday in Room 17B.
His case-based discussion will provide guidance on what a practitioner needs to think about when approaching the issue of obesity treatment in this setting. He will review the obesity treatment landscape that currently ranges from behavioral lifestyle interventions to medication to surgical intervention.
“Thinking about that particular landscape, how do you then match that with someone who comes from a different background; maybe they have fewer resources available because they live in a small community that doesn’t have any local grocery stores or safe places for exercise,” he explained.
Because there are a limited number of studies that look at the impact or efficacy of medications by race, he will focus his discussion more on how to engage patients in talking about weight loss and health risk.
“Often providers will not mention body weight with patients and talk about obesity in particular because they don’t feel they are equipped to have that conversation or provide any types of strategies for people,” he said. He hopes that by the end of his presentation, clinicians will feel better equipped to initiate those patient discussions and talk about how weight has an impact on health and what resources may be available to patients no matter their background.