Anne Thorndike, MD, MPH: Discussing Treatment Approaches for Patients with Obesity

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Thorndike discussed highlights from her ACP 2024 talk titled ‘Annals Beyond the Guidelines: How Would You Treat this Patient with Obesity?’

A recent presentation at the American College of Physicians (ACP) Internal Medicine Meeting in Boston looked at several questions regarding obesity such as how effective lifestyle interventions or pharmacologic interventions for the treatment of obesity and how for internal medicine physicians to engage in a shared decision making discussion to develop a plan.

This talk was presented at ACP by Anne Thorndike, MD, MPH, alongside 2 other presenters. Thorndike is known for her work as associate professor of medicine at the Division of General Internal Medicine of Massachusetts General Hospital as well as Harvard Medical School.

Thorndike was interviewed by the HCPLive editorial team at ACP on the topics covered in the presentation, with the initial question being what led to her decision to contribute to the presentation.

“For a long time, my clinical work was actually focused on working with people to modify lifestyle behaviors to prevent obesity and cardiometabolic disease,” Thorndike said. “My research also focuses on nutrition and nutrition security, using different strategies to help people make healthier food choices and to exercise. So I've had a long standing interest in lifestyle modification and also I think the timing of these new medications has put lifestyle modification in a new light.”

Thorndike noted that the combination of discussing new obesity medications and lifestyle changes represented a list of interesting things for clinicians to consider moving forward in helping patients to be healthier.

Later, she was asked if they highlighted any specific challenges or considerations when developing treatment plans for patients with obesity that go beyond standard guidelines.

“I think that it's important to acknowledge that the strongest evidence for lifestyle modification comes from trials that showed that multicomponent behavioral interventions are the most effective way to change lifestyle and lose 5 - 10% body weight,” Thorndike said. “So that is one of the factors that's going to get highlighted in this talk is that multicomponent behavioral interventions can result in 5 - 10% weight loss, whereas the medications when used at the highest dose, can produce 15 - 20% weight loss.”

Thorndike added, however, that it is important for patients to understand that even if one does not achieve such high weight loss numbers, one can actually achieve a lot of health benefits such as reductions in blood pressure, lipids, hemoglobin A1C, and reducing your risk for diabetes.

She added the numerous other health benefits which can involve improvement of depression symptoms, reducing sleep apnea, improving pain from knee arthritis, and reducing fatty liver.

To learn more about Thorndike’s presentation, view the full interview segment posted above.

The quotes contained in this summary were edited for clarity. Thorndike has no relationships with entities whose primary business is selling, producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.