The International Congress on Obesity 2016 (ICO2016) in Vancouver told the story of obesity treatment through the eyes of leading academic scientists, researchers, practitioners, educators, policy makers, patient advocates and product companies.
The story of obesity is…
- empowering – if we all do our part to address weight bias and accept that health can improve at any weight.
- complex – there’s no simple calorie-in, calorie-out solution.
- misunderstood – the BMI needs to give way to the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS).
- misleading – obesity is not caused by a lack of willpower.
- triggering policy change.
- fueling product development, including mobile digital solutions.
Ayogo’s goal in attending was to continue to refine our behaviour change mobile-health solution for obesity and to forge connections for potential pilots of this solution.
Our product team came away more confident than ever that an emotionally-resonant, supportive mobile application must be part of solving what is in reality a chronic relapsing disease.
Avi van Haren, Ayogo’s Director of Product Management, attended over 50 presentations at the ICO2016. Avi had this to say:
Every presenter and supporting presentation provided me with powerful insights about this serious chronic disease. It was a floodgate of valuable data points for me. The learning was both personal and professional. Beyond listening to the concerns, trends and recent innovations around obesity, what I really got out of the conference was appreciating the practical challenges that come up and what solutions are being adopted in this space. I was deeply impressed with everyone who presented.”
No place for shame in obesity treatment
Obesity as a lifelong disease is a very hot topic: during the ICO2016 the New York Times published a widely-read series on The Science of Fat which reinforced many points from the ICO2016. The evidence is strong. Arresting obesity starts at pre-conception and continues over a lifetime. Education and engagement are critical, if we are to reconceptualize obesity as a lifelong condition.
We need to become more accepting as a society of the people who struggle the hardest with their weight. People with unhealthy weights have the same right to dignity as anybody. Shame has no place in managing obesity. Ayogo has made a commitment to use supportive imagery, such as these empowering images, licensed for re-use, provided by the Canadian Obesity Network. Stopping weight bias is key.
What are your attitude and beliefs towards individuals with obesity?
Here are two print out questionnaires to test your own biases towards obesity. Re-take at regular intervals to compare how your perceptions shift over time:
• ATOP:Attitudes Toward Obese Persons Scale
• BAOP: Beliefs About Obese Persons Scale
• Scoring Instructions for ATOP and BAOP
Presentations at ICO2016 showed a spectrum of interventions for arresting obesity:
- Lifestyle interventions without medical supervision
- Lifestyle interventions with medical supervision
- Pharmacotherapy such as Contrave, Xenical/Alli, Qsymia, Belviq, Mysimba and Saxenda.
- Non-surgical procedures such as the gastric balloon therapy
- And at the end of the spectrum, the more invasive procedures such as bariatric surgery.
Ayogo’s product, Picture It! was created to improve the probability of positive health outcomes for pre-bariatric patients. In a 3rd party early-stage controlled trial, the app for obesity, Picture It! significantly improved weight loss, altered lifestyle behaviours, and improved self-efficacy over traditional preparation classes alone.
It was gratifying to hear from ICO2016 participants including pharmaceutical companies, balloon therapy product teams, and of course healthcare systems that Picture It! had the features they were looking for. As a digital tool for obesity treatment, Picture It! supports positive habit formation, lifestyle change and medication adherence, through daily action, innovative educational modules, playful design and peer modelling.
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