How to Set Up an Obesity Program (Part 1 of n)

Over the past months, (despite or perhaps even in light of the pandemic), I have received a number of invitations to speak and advise on setting up obesity programs, both nationally and globally. As I prepared for these talks, I realised that my own trials, failures and successes over the past decades add up to a rather deep knowledge and experience in a field that I would still consider in its infancy. 

The more I tried to condense this experience and information into a 20 minute presentation, the more I realised just how complex this issue really is and how many factors (most of which, in hindsight, may seem obvious) are really crucial to establishing a successful program. 

Thus, in planning a program, it is important to give consideration to a host of issues that include understanding the existing and arising policy barriers to obesity care, harnessing administrative enthusiasm and support, considering space and personnel requirements, creating a consultant network, establishing standards and procedures, defining referral, transition and discharge pathways, ensuring ongoing quality control, education and training, integration of community support, and, perhaps most important of all, managing stakeholder expectations. 

Looking back at the numerous obesity programs that I have helped set up, formally reviewed, consulted on, mentored, and have seen both nationally and around the world, I could not help but see important commonalities, most of which cross jurisdictions and “markets”. 

No doubt, each of these topics and sub-topics presents its own challenges and opportunities and there is much to say about each of them – definitely more than enough for a whole series of posts on this issue, which I hope readers will not only find helpful as they consider setting up or expanding their own programs but will also encourage them to share their many experiences and challenges. 

So, stay tuned as I work my way through these topics over the coming days and weeks. 

Berlin, D