On Thursday, September 9, 2021, The Connecticut Health Council (CHC), an initiative of the MetroHartford Alliance, hosted The Health and Financial Impact of Obesity with:
- Louis Aronne, Director Comprehensive Weight Control Center, Weill Center for Metabolic Health
- Mark Cunningham-Hill, Medical Director, Northeast Business Group on Health
- Shiara Ortiz-Pujols, Obesity Medicine Medical Director, UnitedHealth Group
- Niki Patel, Medical Accounts Director, Novo Nordisk
CHC Executive Director Dawn Johnson kicked off the event welcoming the moderator, panelists, and attendees and encouraging people to engage with the CHC with questions, comments, and feedback about the event or anything else related to healthcare and the state of Connecticut.
Before questioning the panelists, event moderator Dr. Niki Patel, Medical Accounts Director, Novo Nordisk led an engaging discussion with interactive, real-time Q&A and polling about the perceptions associated with obesity and the cost of care.
Creating Awareness to Create Change
Panelist Dr. Mark Cunningham-Hill, Medical Director, Northeast Business Group on Health then gave a short presentation with key points about the current landscape in obesity management—noting the impact of COVID-19, barriers to chronic care, and the importance of creating awareness.
His overall message was, we can all do better if we work together to impact change.
In terms of tips and strategies, Dr. Cunningham noted that we need to look at what’s working and what’s not working and evaluate outcomes, emphasizing there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Focusing on Overall Wellness and Engagement
Dr. Shiara Ortiz-Pujols, Obesity Medicine Medical Director, UnitedHealth Group, echoed Dr. Cunningham’s sentiment that there is not just one solution. She underscored the focus needs to be on wellness, not weight. It was also recognized that obesity is a health equity issue that must be considered when managing and delivering associated care.
Dr. Louis Aronne, Director Comprehensive Weight Control Center, Weill Center for Metabolic Health discussed how the population health model, which works for 1/3 of the population, creates a treatment gap. He noted that solutions aren’t effective for 2/3 of obese population.
In terms of what effectively works, Dr. Cunningham said it’s critical to get senior leaders involved and engaged and hold them accountable. He also advised asking employees what they want and finding out what would help the most, noting that engagement creates helpful solutions.
Dr. Ortiz-Pujols discussed an effective lifestyle intervention program, noting that hope is a catalyst to keep people going and engaged.
The session was comprehensive, focused on access, coverage, and community. The impact of obesity can be felt by individuals, employers, insurers, and those that support the care and treatment of this disease. There are many more conversations to have about this and all the related co-morbid conditions related to obesity in Connecticut. Please let us know if there are questions you have for our panelists.
Learn more, listen to the Pulse of the Region Cast: Dispelling the Myths Around Obesity.