November 09, 2018
3 min read

ObesityWeek annual meeting highlights cross-disciplinary approach

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ObesityWeek 2018 will offer attendees a mix of the latest obesity science and treatment research, featuring a roster of world-renowned experts addressing everything from genetics and nutrition to bariatric surgery and important public policy developments.

The sixth annual ObesityWeek, convened by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and The Obesity Society (TOS), will bring together approximately 3,800 attendees to take in scientific presentations, keynote lectures and networking events, as well as postgraduate courses offered for surgeons and integrated health members, including 60 CME sessions and an additional 24 educational sessions without CME. The meeting takes place Sunday to Thursday at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and offers nurses, dietitians, mental health professionals, physicians, surgeons and researchers the opportunity to connect and share their specialized expertise and concentrations.

“What is exciting about ObesityWeek is the broad perspective that you get and the combination of clinical research, basic research, psychological research, epidemiological research and policy-related research,” Lori M. Zeltser, PhD, associate professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University in New York, and the ObesityWeek program committee chair, told Endocrine Today. “The best feedback we received last year was for sessions that had this cross-disciplinary approach, so that is what we highlighted and expanded this year, building on the strength of ObesityWeek.”

As part of an effort to highlight the diversity of attendee specialties, ObesityWeek will feature a session Monday, Food Addiction or Hedonic Eating: Setting the Record Straight, from 3 to 5 p.m., that combines clinical and psychological approaches to eating.

“This helps people to understand how the food industry uses labeling in order to tap into additive circuits,” Zeltser said. “This is a classic example of why TOS is different. You don’t get this anywhere else. It’s important that more meetings incorporate this type of cross-approach.”

Poster sessions were also organized differently for 2018 to reflect the new effort, Zeltser said. This year, instead of researchers submitting posters or abstracts by track, they submitted by keyword.

“As a result, now you have a poster session curated by topic,” Zeltser said. “If you’re interested in sleep and obesity, you will now see an array of basic, clinical and psychological posters that have to do with sleep. You’re going to get a broader perspective, and as far as networking opportunities, now you’re going to meet people who approach your same problem from a different angle.”

This year’s meeting also includes several new networking opportunities, according to meeting organizers, including two basic science-based events. “Nerd Night,” taking place Tuesday at the Nashville Underground from 8:30 to 10 p.m., promises “real science, delivered funny, in a bar” for free to meeting attendees. Two “Basic Science and Beer Lightning Talks” will take place Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Wednesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m., featuring free beer while listening to talks from students and postdoctoral researchers. Organizers will also host the popular Afterdark Party, taking place Wednesday at Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar from 9 p.m. to midnight.


This year’s keynote speaker, Steven E. Nissen, MD, chairman of the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, will open the meeting with a talk on the intersection between obesity and heart disease Tuesday at 8:20 a.m.

Zeltser said she hopes that this year’s meeting will start a new conversation around weight loss and overall health.

“There are two areas in particular where some of the talks will, I hope, start a paradigm shift in the way people are thinking about obesity and approaching obesity,” Zeltser said. “One of them is the concept of metabolic endpoints as criteria for success, and disassociating weight loss, per se, from metabolic health and fitness. There will be lot of studies that explore how those two things don’t always go in lock step — that there are some diets that may make you lose more weight, but may not be as good in, let’s say, improving insulin sensitivity.”

Another emerging concept, Zeltser said, is separating initial weight loss from weight-loss maintenance and understanding that the processes are distinct and different.

“There will be several talks about this,” Zeltser said. “There are some interventions that may not be particularly effective in the weight-loss phase, but they may be effective in weight-loss maintenance. It’s just that people haven’t looked. Those different processes may need different approaches and interventions.”

The Endocrine Today and Healio.com staff will provide coverage from ObesityWeek, including reports on the sessions described above and others, exclusive interviews and much more. For more information on the ObesityWeek agenda and registration, visit https://obesityweek.com/. – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosure: Zeltser is program committee chair for ObesityWeek.