Published online Sep 21, 2017. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i35.6371
Peer-review started: July 12, 2017
First decision: August 10, 2017
Revised: August 18, 2017
Accepted: September 5, 2017
Article in press: September 5, 2017
Published online: September 21, 2017
A world-wide rise in the prevalence of obesity continues. This rise increases the occurrence of, risks of, and costs of treating obesity-related medical conditions. Diet and activity programs are largely inadequate for the long-term treatment of medically-complicated obesity. Physicians who deliver gastrointestinal care after completing traditional training programs, including gastroenterologists and general surgeons, are not uniformly trained in or familiar with available bariatric care. It is certain that gastrointestinal physicians will incorporate new endoscopic methods into their practice for the treatment of individuals with medically-complicated obesity, although the long-term impact of these endoscopic techniques remains under investigation. It is presently unclear whether gastrointestinal physicians will be able to provide or coordinate important allied services in bariatric surgery, endocrinology, nutrition, psychological evaluation and support, and social work. Obtaining longitudinal results examining the effectiveness of this ad hoc approach will likely be difficult, based on prior experience with other endoscopic measures, such as the adenoma detection rates from screening colonoscopy. As a long-term approach, development of a specific curriculum incorporating one year of subspecialty training in bariatrics to the present training of gastrointestinal fellows needs to be reconsidered. This approach should be facilitated by gastrointestinal trainees’ prior residency training in subspecialties that provide care for individuals with medical complications of obesity, including endocrinology, cardiology, nephrology, and neurology. Such training could incorporate additional rotations with collaborating providers in bariatric surgery, nutrition, and psychiatry. Since such training would be provided in accredited programs, longitudinal studies could be developed to examine the potential impact on accepted measures of care, such as complication rates, outcomes, and costs, in individuals with medically-complicated obesity.
Core tip: A world-wide rise in the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related medical conditions needs to be addressed. Newer endoscopic methods will be incorporated into the clinical practice of gastrointestinal physicians, although the long-term impact of these endoscopic methods on medically-complicated obesity remains under investigation. As a potential long-term approach, development of a curriculum designed to incorporate one year of subspecialty training in bariatrics to the present training of gastrointestinal fellows needs to be reconsidered. Longitudinal studies could be performed to examine the impact of subspecialty training on medical complications, outcomes, and costs in treating individuals with medically-complicated obesity.