Obesity continues to endure as a public health threat. Corrine Chomixzewski, PA-C MSHI, physician assistant, Newton-Wellesley Hospital Center for Weight Loss Surgery, shared that obesity is a major health problem that affects 25% of the industrial world. She went on to share the statistic that “74% of Americans are overweight, 42% of Americans are obese, almost 20% of American children are obese from ages two to 19.”

On March 13, Regis hosted its annual President’s Lecture Series on Health, which offers dynamic and thought-provoking discussions about contemporary health and wellness issues. ‘Obesity Unmasked: Challenging Stigmas and Building Solutions’ was the latest installment in this series where a panel of experts in the medical field spoke about the topic of obesity and highlighted some of the stigmas and treatments relative to the public health crisis.

One treatment as highlighted by Dr. Chomixzewski is bariatric surgery. “The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery says [bariatric surgery] is the most effective and long-lasting treatment for severe obesity, resulting in significant weight, loss, and the improvement, prevention, or resolution of many related diseases,” said Chomixzewski. “Studies have shown that it will reduce a patient's risk of premature death by 30 to 50%.”

Additional less invasive treatments for obesity were highlighted by Chika Anekwe, MD, MPH, which included behavioral programs, such as Weight Watchers. “I think most of the people are familiar with the point system that's implemented by Weight Watchers,” said Dr. Anekwe.” So again, a way of kind of helping the person to understand and be engaged in what their eating behaviors are, and really mindful of them, and kind of using that point system as a guide towards affecting and long-term changes in thein the dietary intake.”

Susan Himes, PhD, clinical psychologist followed up the conversation by touching upon the mental effects of obesity. “A lot of teenagers report that they [are victims] of name calling and that they're less likely to date than peers,” said Dr. Himes. “Adults report more weight related exclusion and mistreatment, especially as you get to the higher part of the BMI [Body Mass Index]. Women and men who are overweight are less likely to be married than some of their peers are.”

“It’s so interesting to see how much stress of our very stressful environment that we live in and how that’s affecting our body,” said Colleen Johnson, MS RDN LDN, clinical nutrition specialist and adult diabetes educator. "And I think because our jobs are so sedentary and because our food environment has to be so quick, so convenient and so cheap, because a lot of people, especially now, are dealing with financial struggles.”

The Regis College President’s Lecture Series on Health offers dynamic and thought-provoking discussions about contemporary health and wellness issues. Established in 2007 in partnership with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a Point32Health company, this unique series of free lectures features industry experts addressing pressing timely topics for the benefit of health care professionals, students, and members of the public. The next President's Lecture Series event will be taking place on April 10, 2024.