With obesity, good advice only goes so far. What’s good for one person hasn’t turned out to be good for all, and it’s left patients and physicians adrift. Michael Jensen, M.D., a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, began studying obesity 34 years ago when it seemed manageable.
“There was sort of a false sense of optimism,” says Dr. Jensen. “Now the problem is so prevalent and doctors are so pessimistic that they just tend to not address it at all.”
Dr. Jensen, who wears running shoes with his suit, stops his treadmill desk and heads to his office filled with binders covering the hundreds of studies he’s managed over the decades. His research is a fraction of the whole. The level of obesity research has doubled nearly four times since 1996. But the massive collection of data hasn’t stopped this epidemic. Andres Acosta, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo basic-science-trained gastroenterologist who is board-certified in obesity medicine, describes the numbers.
“Almost 600 million people suffer from obesity across the world. In the United States alone, 40% of people have obesity. And despite FDA-approved medications, devices and surgery, less than 1% of the patients ask for them,” he says. “We also have a new diet every week and a new weight loss program every week. All of them secure weight loss, none are effective in the long-term. So that’s a reality of obesity.”
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