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Letter from the Executive Director
A Promising Milestone in Coverage for Obesity Treatments

TOS
Dear Colleagues,

I'm pleased to share with you some fantastic news coming out of Washington this week regarding Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage of weight-loss medications. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), responsible for health insurance coverage for Federal Employees, acted in support of health coverage for FDA-approved weight-loss treatments — setting the stage for other health plans to follow. This ruling stating that obesity exclusions are no longer permissible in health plans for federal employees is a much-needed step toward improving access to medical interventions for many people with obesity.

In the March 20th letter to all FEHB carriers, John O'Brien, the Director of Healthcare and Insurance at OPM, agrees that while "diet and exercise are the preferred methods for losing weight, …drug therapy can assist [those] who do not achieve weight loss through diet and exercise alone."
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ASSOCIATION NEWS


The Obesity Society Awards: 2014 Call for Nominations
TOS
Get recognized for your great work in obesity research, treatment and prevention! The Obesity Society's Awards Program promotes, rewards, and encourages research in the field of obesity. Nominations are now being accepted for the following awards:
  • 2014 Atkinson-Stern Award for Distinguished Public Service
  • 2014 George A. Bray Founders Award
  • 2014 Lilly Scientific Achievement Award
  • 2014 Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2014 TOPS Research Achievement Award
Send in your 2014 award nominations by the deadline of April 30, 2014. Nominations will be reviewed by TOS's Awards Committee and the winners will be announced in June. Awards will be presented at ObesityWeek™ 2014, from November 2 – 7 in Boston, MA. Find out more about each award as well as instructions for how to submit a nomination here. Please contact Sadie Campbell, Governance and Executive Assistance at scampbell@obesity.org or 301-563-6526 if you have questions regarding these awards.

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Science-Industry Collaborations Can Support Obesity Science, Public Health
TOS
Collaborations between scientists and industries, including food and pharmaceuticals, have a strong history of aiding in new scientific discoveries and supporting public health. However, in recent years, nutrition and obesity researchers have frequently endured ad hominem attacks, or inappropriate criticisms of character and ethics on the sole basis of collaborative relationships and/or funding from Industry. On March 24, TOS issued a position statement supporting and encouraging collaborative relationships between scientists and Industry in the interest of scientific discovery and public health. The position goes further to condemn these character attacks against credible and ethical professionals providing transparency and full disclosure about these collaborations.

The position statement, authored by members of TOS leadership including Advocacy Chair Emily Dhurandhar, PhD, President-elect Nikhil Dhurandhar, PhD, Secretary-Treasurer Martin Binks, PhD, and Advocacy Advisor Ted Kyle, RPh, discourages the practice of "dismissing the contributions of individual scientists and attempting to discredit individuals based on funding source." Find the full position statement online here.

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Capitol Update: OCC Supports Preventive Health Saving Act
TOS
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently issued a Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program Carrier Letter which contained language about FEHB carriers excluding coverage of weight loss medications. In the letter, the OPM clarifies that excluding weight loss drugs from FEHB coverage on the basis that obesity is a "lifestyle" condition and not a medical one or that obesity treatment is "cosmetic" — is not permissible.

Additionally, in late February leaders from the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) endorsed the Preventive Health Savings Act (HR 2663/S 1422), which was introduced by Representatives Burgess and Christensen and Senators Cardin and Crapo, respectively. The OCC applauds these legislators for introducing this critical legislation, which will allow the Congressional Budget Office to better project the long-term saving associated with preventing chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

The OCC also recently submitted comments to CMS on the proposed guidance contained in the CMS "Draft 2015 Letter to Issuers in the Federally Facilitated Marketplaces." The comments focus on issues related to patient access to clinically appropriate services in the federally facilitated marketplaces that would improve the care and prevention of obesity.

Find out more about TOS's efforts in Washington in the March Capitol Update here.

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Congratulations to the New TOS Fellows!
TOS
TOS is pleased to welcome the following members to TOS Fellowship:
  • James Annesi, PhD, FTOS, YMCA of Metro Atlanta
  • Cecelia Bergh, PhD, FTOS, Mando Group AB
  • Janne Boone-Heinonen, PhD, FTOS, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Ellen Demerath, PhD, FTOS, University Of Minnesota
  • Leslie Heinberg, PhD, FTOS, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College Of Medicine
  • Steven Heymsfield, MD, FTOS, Pennington Biomedical Research Center
  • Christopher Ochner, PhD, FTOS, Mount Sinai School Of Medicine/New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center
  • Carla Prado, PhD, FTOS, Florida State University
  • Leanne Redman, PhD, FTOS, Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Are you a TOS Fellow? Fellowship is one of the highest honors bestowed by TOS and sets you apart by acknowledging your high-level contributions to the field of obesity research, treatment and/or prevention. Find out more here.

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Cigarette Smoking May Lead to Excess Fat, Calorie Consumption in Women with Obesity, Study Finds
TOS
A new study published in the April 2014 issue of Obesity found that cigarette smoking may blunt fat and sweetness perceptions among female smokers with obesity, leading to higher consumption of fat and sugar for more intense flavor. The study, "Cigarette smoking and obesity are associated with decreased fat perception in women," contradicts the idea that cigarette smoking could help women to control body weight in the long term.

Researchers, Marta Yanina Pepino, PhD, and Julie Mennella, PhD, tested whether the co-occurrence of smoking and obesity is associated with reduced oral fat perception, or fat content perceived by the mouth, in 47 women, between 21 and 41 years of age. The women were separated into four groups (14 smokers with obesity, 11 never-smokers with obesity, 10 normal-weight smokers, 12 normal-weight never-smokers) and asked to rate vanilla puddings that varied in fat content for perceived intensity of creaminess and sweetness.

Overall, female smokers with obesity perceived less creaminess, sweetness and pleasure while tasting any of the puddings than the women in the other groups. According to researchers, this implies that the ability to perceive fat and sweetness and derive pleasure from foods is compromised in female smokers with obesity, which could contribute to excess calorie intake. Read more in The Obesity Society press release here.

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New Research Shows Estrogen Has No Effect on Weight Loss
Contributed by Adam Tsai, MD
New research published in the April issue of Obesity shows post-menopausal women who receive estrogen therapy while dieting and exercising do not lose any more weight than women who diet and exercise alone.

Researchers, led by R.E. Van Pelt, studied 119 post-menopausal women between the ages of 50-70 with a mean BMI of 30.3, and gave either conjugated estrogens, raloxifene, or placebo. Participants also received supervised exercise intervention and caloric restriction designed to induce moderate weight loss. After six months, researchers measured the women’s composition and abdominal adiposity, as well as their changes in glucose and lipids.

The results showed that neither estrogen nor raloxifene increased the loss of total fat or abdominal fat, and weight losses in the three groups were not significantly different. Individuals who received estrogen had a greater improvement in fasting glucose, and those who received either estrogen or raloxifene had greater improvements in LDL and HDL cholesterol. Overall, these results are consistent with previous trials of menopausal hormone therapy (e.g., the Women’s Health Initiative) and suggest that estrogen and raloxifene are not intended to supplement the metabolic benefits of lifestyle modification in post-menopausal women.

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Different Genes Influence BMI at Different Ages, Study Indicates
Contributed by Tapan Mehta, PhD
Research published in the March issue of Obesity suggests different genes that are not well known BMI variants, may influence BMI at different ages. This could potentially aid future therapy by enabling the targeting of specific metabolic pathways.

Researchers, led by Audrey Choh, studied whether the gene-by-age association on BMI differed across age range from birth to adulthood. Understanding the differential effects of genes may help us understand more about the metabolic pathways and perhaps explain the inconsistent associations of BMI variants found in cross-sectional studies.

Data was pulled from the Fels Longitudinal study, which consisted of 1,176 white US participants with dates of BMI measurement from 1934 to 2011. Analyses were done using two separate sets of genetic loci: 1) genetic risk score (GRS) estimated across different ages based on the 32 genetic loci previously associated with BMI, and 2) additive genetic associations of loci not part of the GRS (non-GRS loci).

The longitudinal fluctuations in GRS across the ages of these participants were found to be not statistically significant, and neither were the longitudinal fluctuations in non-GRS loci. Results from the non-GRS loci correlations indicate the genes that influence BMI earlier in life may differ from those influencing BMI later in life.

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Save the Date: ObesityWeek 2014 ABOM Review Course, Nov. 2 & 3
TOS
The TOS Education Committee is finalizing expert speakers for the 2014 American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) Review Course to be held as part of ObesityWeek 2014 on Nov. 2 & 3. We're extremely excited about the caliber of expert speakers joining us this year for a course that promises to be as informative as past years, but updated to include a friendlier learning environment for participants.

Are you thinking about becoming ABOM certified? This elite designation distinguishes a physician as having achieved a higher level of understanding in obesity care by completing specialized education, and at ObesityWeek 2014, this two-day course by TOS will well-prepare participants for the exam.

Mark your calendars for this year's ABOM exam dates — December 6 - 13, 2014. And, don't forget to register for the exam before the September 15 deadline! Stay tuned to TOS eNews for additional information about the ABOM Review Course, and please email education@obesity.org with any questions.

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Reminder: Call for Papers for 2nd Annual Obesity Symposium at ObesityWeek 2014
TOS
The Editorial Team of Obesity will host the 2nd Annual Obesity Symposium to be presented at ObesityWeek 2014 in Boston, MA, Nov. 2 – 7, 2014. The editors will select six winning papers and the session will be promoted to the obesity research community and to the press. In addition, the papers will be published in a special section of the November 2014 issue of Obesity. The deadline for online manuscript submission is June 1, 2014. To be considered for the Obesity Symposium, please submit your manuscript online on or before June 1, 2014 here.
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TOS Member Ted Kyle, RPh, Discusses Obesity as a Disease
TOS
In a recent interview with Radio Health Journal — an award-winning half-hour weekly radio show that can be heard on more than 500 stations nationwide — Ted Kyle, RPh, speaking on behalf of TOS, discussed obesity as a disease.

Kyle described obesity as a "complex chronic disease that requires good medical care and good choices for good health." He explained that obesity is a chronic disease and that "saying obesity is a disease is not a substitute for counseling people about the importance of good choices. That's true whether you have cancer, HIV, diabetes, heart disease, or obesity."

A full recording of the interview is available here, and you can read Ted Kyle's blog post recapping the interview here.

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Research Study at Drexel University Seeks Clinician Participants
TOS
Problematic eating among overweight and obese individuals can be particularly difficult to reliably diagnose. Researchers at Drexel University are conducting a brief, web-based survey to examine clinicians' diagnostic decision-making. The results of this study could inform future diagnostic criteria, which could ultimately result in more tailored treatment for individuals who suffer from disordered eating.

Participants are asked to fill out a brief (approximately seven-minute) online survey. This includes anonymous questions about demographic information, one brief patient vignette, and questions about diagnostic impressions.

Participant requirements:
  • Mental health provider
  • Practicing as mental health provider for at least two years
  • At least 10% of client caseload (current or within last two years) must consist of individuals with disordered eating
Please note that because of survey randomization, you cannot save and return to your responses; all responses must be entered in the same session. The survey is available here.

You may contact Laura A. Berner at lab88@drexel.edu if you have questions or concerns or if you would like to receive the published results of the study. This research is being conducted by members of Dr. Michael Lowe's lab and has been approved by the Human Research Protections Program at Drexel University.

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OBESITY IN THE NEWS


Schools increasingly check students for obesity
The Associated Press via NPR
The Chula Vista school district not only measures the academic progress of Marina Beltran's second-grader, it also measures her son's body fat. Every two years, Antonio Beltran, like his classmates, steps on a scale. Trained district personnel also measure his height and then use the two figures to calculate his body mass index, an indicator of body fat.
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Endo type: Certified in obesity medicine
MedPage Today
Obesity medicine — covering the whole gamut of weight control — is now a board-certified specialty, and clinicians can earn their certification from the American Board of Obesity Medicine. The first test was administered in December 2012, when 191 physicians were certified, according to Robert Huster, M.D., a director of ABOM. Another 204 got the credential in 2013.
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Toddlers who sleep less may eat more
HealthDay News via MSN
Toddlers who get too little sleep tend to eat more and are at increased risk for obesity, a new study indicates. The study included children in over 1,300 British families who had their sleep measured when they were 16 months old and their diet checked when they were 21 months old.
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Why Hispanic culture may contribute to infant obesity
The Huffington Post
The war on childhood obesity may come to a screeching halt if dietary experts don't take into consideration a person's culture. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, Hispanic culture — not just poor nutrition choices — may have a negative impact on healthy weight throughout infancy.
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Obesity and depression in female teenagers
Examiner
Depression and obesity have long been associated, but how they relate over time is less clear. Exercise can assist in the treatment of depression to begin with, so it seems like a good reason to combine prevention efforts for both depression and obesity. New research, "Obesity and depression in adolescence and beyond: reciprocal risks," from a Rutgers University–Camden professor shows that adolescent females who experience one of the disorders are at a greater risk for the other as they get older.
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Study provides snapshot of recent bariatric demographics, outcomes
General Surgery News
Despite major shake-ups in insurance coverage of bariatric surgery since 2007, the demographics of patients who undergo these procedures have not changed, a new study shows. Also stable throughout the study period were patient safety outcomes, measured in terms of morbidity and mortality. These remain virtually unmoved since 2007, with major complications reported in around 2 percent of patients and deaths in 0.1 percent.
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A gene defect is shown as a strong factor for obesity
Examiner
King’s College London issued a report on March 30, 2014 that showed that a defective gene may be causing people to become obese. The report is titled New study finds strong link between obesity and 'carb breakdown' gene. This study shows that there is a genetic link between metabolism of carbohydrates and obesity. There is a specific mechanism that inhibits the replication of a key enzyme in saliva that helps to breakdown carbohydrates.
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Disclaimer: eNews is a digest of the most important news selected for The Obesity Society from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. The Obesity Society does not endorse any of the advertised products and services. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the author and not of The Obesity Society.

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