Tag Archives: Obesity

Weight-loss surgery - Scottsdale Living Magazine Spring 2012

Humana, Weight Watchers join to help Arizonans

With levels of obesity and its health-related impacts continuing to rise in the U.S., employers are facing a fast-growing threat to productivity and employee health. Humana Inc., one of the nation’s leading health and well-being companies, and Weight Watchers International, Inc., the world’s leading provider of weight management services, announced they have teamed up to help Arizona employers attack the problem.

All Humana members in qualified employer-sponsored health plans now have free and discounted access to Weight Watchers through an integrated wellness program built into their health plan, giving Humana members a proven and accessible approach to change their habits and improve their health. The first-of-its-kind program closely integrates Weight Watchers into Humana’s many medical and wellness programs, actively connecting members who want to lose weight to the program at no cost for six months, and at a significant discount thereafter.

“We want to help employers find effective ways to battle obesity, improve the overall wellness of their employees and create healthy communities,” said Beth Bierbower, President of Humana’s Employer Group Segment. “With that in mind, partnering with Weight Watchers just made sense – it allows us to connect our members with a leading weight loss program so that they can better navigate their wellness journeys.”

“As the leading weight management program focused on helping people change their behavior and achieve their goals, our mission to ‘change people’s relationship with food for good’ directly aligns with Humana’s mission to ‘support lifelong well-being,’” said Jim Chambers, president and CEO, Weight Watchers International, Inc. “Working together, we can help more people develop the goals, plans and skills they need to improve their overall health.”

Southwest Human Development, Arizona’s largest nonprofit dedicated to early childhood development, is heavily engaged in workplace wellness and looking forward to offering the new program to its more than 830 employees. Chief Executive Officer Ginger Ward believes adding the new offering from Humana and Weight Watchers will help her employees and their families reach their wellness goals.

“It’s important that we help our employees and their families achieve and live a healthy lifestyle,” Ward said. “The addition of the Weight Watchers program to our much-used HumanaVitality employee wellness initiative will connect our employees and their family members who want to get to a healthy weight with the tools and resources they need to successfully reach their goal.”

According to recent studies, U.S. employers are losing billions in productivity every year to obesity-related health issues. Additional research shows that obese and overweight employees are at higher risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many other chronic diseases, all of which contribute to healthcare costs. While there is no silver bullet for managing obesity, more employers are taking on this challenge by offering resources to employees.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Guidelines support intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions, including community-based programs, as effective for obesity treatment. As a behavioral intervention, Weight Watchers helps people to adopt a healthier lifestyle that results in achieving and learning to maintain a healthy weight.

“Obesity is a significant health issue for this country and has a devastating effect on the health of employees and, by extension, on their employers,” said Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. “We applaud the commitment by Humana and Weight Watchers to battle obesity and we embrace their initiative to make weight loss programs widely available to health plan members. Ultimately, employers can and should play a role in combating obesity and will welcome the development of accessible, affordable and evidence-based weight management solutions.”

Weight Watchers is now offered to all Humana members insured through qualified employer-based health plans. Members with weight loss goals will be actively connected to Weight Watchers through Humana’s disease management programs, health coaches, personal nurses, customer service and HumanaVitality.

Humana participants can chose Weight Watchers OnlinePlus to follow the plan entirely online with new 24/7 Expert Chat real-time support and access to all the digital tools and apps; or they can choose Weight Watchers Meetings for face-to-face support from a Coach who has lost weight with Weight Watchers and exchange experiences with a group of like-minded peers, along with 24/7 Expert Chat and digital tools and apps.

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TGen identifies genes linked to unhealthy liver function

A groundbreaking study of nearly 2,300 extremely obese diabetes patients, led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), has identified genes associated with unhealthy liver function.

This is believed to be the nation’s first large-scale genome-wide association study in overweight patients with diabetes.

Results of the study, done in conjunction with the Geisinger Health System, will be presented at the 64th annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Nov. 1-5 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

The study — Genome-wide analysis identifies loci associated with total bilirubin levels, steatosis, and mild fibrosis in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease — looked at how genomic factors affect the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It was selected for presentation from among a record 3,139 submittals from around the world proposed for what also is known as The Liver Meeting 2013.

“These genetic factors could help us identify patients who are most at risk of developing non-alcoholic forms of fatty-liver disease (NAFLD), and which patients may be more likely to progress to severe forms of NAFLD, such as steatohepatitis (NASH),” said Dr. Johanna DiStefano, the study’s principal investigator and lead author. Dr. DiStefano is Director of TGen’s Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases Division.

NAFLD is the build up of extra fat in liver cells, not caused by alcohol. It is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease. NASH is liver inflammation and damage caused by a buildup of fat in the liver, not caused by alcohol.

“Our results showed evidence for new genetic loci that may play a role in the biological mechanisms of NAFLD and NASH,” said Dr. Glenn S. Gerhard, a faculty member of the Geisinger Obesity Institute and a co-investigator of the study.

“We discovered genes that may help identify those patients most at risk for the types of liver disease so severe that they could require transplants,” said Dr. Gerhard, Administrative Director for the Institute for Personalized Medicine at Penn State University-Hershey.

Patients included in this study were those with extreme obesity enrolled in a bariatric surgery program.

The study identified evidence for association with markers in the neurocan gene (NCAN) on chromosome 19p12, and rs2501843 on chromosome 1.

The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) is the leading organization of scientists and healthcare professionals committed to preventing and curing liver disease. AASLD was founded in 1950 by a small group of leading liver specialists to bring together those who had contributed to the field of hepatology.

AASLD has grown to an international society responsible for all aspects of hepatology. Its annual meeting, The Liver Meeting, has grown in attendance from 12 to more than 9,500 physicians, surgeons, researchers, and allied health professionals from around the world.

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Paradise Valley Hospital to Treat Obesity

Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges we face today.  According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health, more than 64 percent of adults in Arizona are overweight, with 24 percent suffering from obesity.  In Maricopa County alone, about 200,000 individuals suffer from Severe Obesity.

Last month, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced its decision to formally recognize obesity as a medical disease. In doing so, the AMA joins numerous other medical organizations and government agencies which have either officially recognized obesity as a disease or asserted such through their leadership representatives.

In mid-August, Abrazo Health will open its comprehensive bariatric surgery center at Paradise Valley Hospital in collaboration with Dr. Kurt W. Sprunger of the Phoenix Bariatric Center.  Dr. Sprunger and his team are dedicated to the proper treatment of those suffering with obesity who have for too long endured criticism and discrimination and felt frustration and shame after the failure of inappropriate and ineffective treatments.

Dr. Sprunger sees the decision by the AMA as a significant milestone in helping to remove societal misconceptions about obesity and improve access to proper medical care for the millions of Americans struggling with this disease, including the 24 million Americans suffering from Severe Obesity and its serious related conditions, for whom bariatric surgery has proved to be the most effective and lasting treatment.

The services offered by Paradise Valley Hospital and Phoenix Bariatric Center will help Arizonans suffering from obesity to reverse the effects of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, infertility and a host of other medical conditions associated with obesity and reduce their risk of certain cancers and heart disease.