ObesityWeek® 2022: What's Stopping Effective Treatment of Obesity?

Marlene Busko

October 31, 2022

ObesityWeek® 2022 is the largest international conference on obesity, with over 100 sessions, and coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Obesity Society. Being held November 1-4, it is a hybrid meeting that participants can attend onsite, in sunny San Diego, or virtually.

"The meeting offers a wide perspective, from basic science, all the way to public policy on studies of treatment and prevention of obesity, " Program Planning Chair for ObesityWeek®, Kelly C. Allison, PhD, told Medscape Medical News in an interview.

The Presidential Plenary session on November 1 will kick off the meeting with "a series of 10-minute rapid talks on cutting-edge topics in the field," noted Allison, who is also director, Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and professor of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

Among others, Ania M. Jastreboff, MD, PhD, will speak about "New developments in anti-obesity pharmacotherapy," and Theodore K. Kyle, RPh, MBA, will discuss "Reducing barriers to treatment: Insurance coverage."

"We're seeing some pretty effective anti-obesity medication, but still they are not being covered by many insurances," said Allison. Some clinicians might be hesitant to prescribe anti-obesity medications, remembering older drugs that were pulled from the market for health concerns, and some patients may also have concerns, she speculated. There is a need for greater education about the current anti-obesity drugs.

In his presidential address, Dan Bessesen, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, will discuss "Regulation of body weight and adaptive responses to weight loss."

Pediatric obesity is a major focus of this year's conference too, Allison noted.

At 8 AM on November 3, The Obesity Society, the World Obesity Federation, the European Association for the Study of Obesity, and Obesity Canada will present a joint symposium, "International innovations in pediatric obesity," with speakers from Canada, Australia, and Ireland discussing ongoing paradigm shifts in the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity.

Two hours later, at a joint symposium by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/The Obesity Society, attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the new AAP Obesity Clinical Practice Guideline for children and adolescents with obesity.

The conference tracks reflect the broad scope of this event: Track 1: Metabolism and Integrative Physiology; Track 2: Neuroscience; Track 3: Interventional and Clinical Studies; Track 4: Population Health; Track 5: Clinical/Professional Practice; Track 6: Policy/Public Health, and a subtrack: Eradicating Treatment Barriers.

Tirzepatide and More...

Allison highlighted the following oral presentations and posters about anti-obesity drugs:

  • "Once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide 2.4 mg in adolescents with overweight or obesity," with an extended Q&A session, November 2.

  • "Clinical outcomes with medication use in tertiary pediatric weight management program," by Enayet et al. Poster 030.

  • "The metabolically healthy obese paradigm and liver fat content in the Fels longitudinal study," by Garza et al. Oral 055, November 2.

  • "Phase 3 clinical trial of metformin for treatment of COVID-19 in adults with overweight and obesity," by Bramante et al. Oral 067, November 3. This trial was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as reported previously. 

  • "Glucagon/GLP-1 receptor dual agonist BI 456906 reduces bodyweight in patients with type 2 diabetes," by Rosenstock et al. Oral-063, November 3. 

  • "A randomized controlled trial of naltrexone and bupropion and behavior therapy for binge-eating disorder," by Grilo et al. Oral 066, November 3.

And on November 4, researchers will present four oral abstracts about the dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist tirzepatide (Mounjaro), which is approved for type 2 diabetes and now has fast track designation for weight loss from the US Food and Drug Administration. Oral abstracts 109, 110, 111, and 112 cover weight loss with tirzepatide across different age groups, body mass indexes, and comorbidities, as well as quality of life.

Allison also highlighted the following presentations that cover other diverse topics:

  • Family-based treatment: "Pilot study to inform a randomized controlled trial of HeLP: Obesity prevention & treatment for the entire Hispanic family," by Haemer et al. Oral 029. November 2.

  • Bariatric surgery: "Long-term outcomes of laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy from 2010-2016: A nationwide cohort study," Oral 014. November 2.

  • Prevention/public health: "Impact of positive and negative front-of-package food labels in a randomized experiment," by Grummon et al. Oral 068. November 3.

  • Time-restricted eating: "Effects of 8-hour time restricted eating for weight loss over 12 months," Gabel et al. Oral 102. November 4.

  • Patient management: "Identifying interprofessional drivers of practice gaps in the management of patients with obesity," by Robinson et al. Poster 055.

On November 4, researchers will present five winning papers that will be published in the December issue of the Obesity journal about GLP-1 agonists versus bariatric surgery; monoacylglycerol O-acyltransferase 1 in mice; a behavioral weight-loss intervention; the Canberra Obesity Management Service; and macronutrient (im)balance in an obesogenic environment.

"I'm always excited to hear some talks that are outside of my comfort area to understand the mechanisms of obesity better," concluded Allison.

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