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Weight Loss Wednesday: New tech gives doctors remote access to vital signs

"There is no doubt that obesity is more than just how you look. It is a disease and it has an impact on every organ in your body," Dr. Ryan explained.

NEW ORLEANS —

We know that carrying high body weight is linked to many dangerous health problems, and now we are seeing a link to a higher fatality rate with COVID-19.

We have a first, early look at new technology, so doctors can help you with this chronic health condition. 

Noted obesity specialist Dr. Donna Ryan said it’s our genetic makeup we’re born with that puts us at risk for obesity in an environment and culture of high-calorie foods and low physical activity. 

"I think everybody thinks they can control their body weight, that it’s just a matter of self-control and willpower. We need to recognize obesity is a disease," said Dr. Donna Ryan, Professor Emerita from Pennington Biomedical Research Center and President of the World Obesity Federation who is the Associate Editor-in-chief of the journal Obesity.

Science shows African-American women are at higher risk for obesity that then can cause complications from COVID-19.

"There is no doubt that obesity is more than just how you look. It is a disease and it has an impact on every organ in your body," Dr. Ryan explained.

And because COVID-19 deaths are more likely with high body weight, Vivus, out of California, is rolling out new health technology early. It is for doctors to use when treating anyone for weight loss. 

"It allows the physician, on a regular basis, to be able to take data and interpret vital signs that the patient actually just administers effectively in their house," said John Amos, CEO of Vivus. 

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Doctors have daily access to vital signs from your heart, lungs temperature and sugar level. They can see if your medications are working. It also calculates calories from food bar codes, your calorie burn and physical activity. So now there is regular doctor-patient interaction that’s convenient. 

"We’re seeing a very significant demand for it because it was very forward-thinking in what we built out," said Amos. 

And expert treatment is the best way to manage chronic weight issues. 

"The single best piece of advice I can give to patients with obesity is find a doctor who knows how to treat it because we have made advances in managing obesity, and its complications," said Dr. Ryan.

The technology is free to patients. Right now it’s new, and around 15 doctors in the U.S. have the technology, but by mid-May more are expected to come online. 

To find a doctor with the technology:

American Board of Obesity Medicine. Vivus will announce a partnership with them on May 17. https://www.vivus.com

The Mayo clinic will conduct a study on the technology. 

To find specialists in obesity treatment: 

Obesity Action Coalition has a list of doctors verified in obesity treatment medicine. https://www.obesityaction.org

The American Board of Obesity Medicine has certified more than 4,000 obesity practitioner specialists. https://www.abom.org

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