MEET THE DIPLOMATE
anand gupta, md
I graduated from Government Medical College Jammu (India), one of the premier medical training institutes of India, and pursued my training as general surgeon from the same institution. My interest in preventive medicine started at the same point as I observed directly that “a preventive stitch in time saves nine.” My quest for best training available in internal medicine brought me to the USA and after graduating from West Lake Internal Medicine Program at Melrose Park in Illinois, I decided to devote the rest of my career to teaching and training the next generation of doctors. Currently, I am the Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Program at Franciscan Health Care at Olympia Fields Illinois. My clinical duties as Team Health, Practice Group Leader involve motivating my colleagues to practice safe and cost-effective medicine. My interest in obesity medicine led me to get board certification and I am doing clinical research on the impact of obesity on health care costs and trying to bring awareness to trainee residents and colleagues about this epidemic. Besides medicine my other interests are running marathons. So far I have run close to 12 and still counting.
Why did you pursue obesity medicine certification?
My interest in obesity medicine stems from my personal quest to keep my weight under control since childhood. I had always incorporated principles of obesity medicine in my practice but lacked an exhaustive approach to it. Obesity medicine certification gave me an opportunity to put a comprehensive plan for management of my patients. When I introduce myself as a board certified obesity medicine physician besides being a hospitalist, it gives validity to my advice and I have a better chance of making inroads into their overall management plan. It also brings great personal satisfaction to be board certified in a subject that you love and cherish.
Many doctors have told us about the “aha” moment that stimulated their interest in obesity medicine. Do you have an obesity medicine “aha” moment that sticks out in your memory?
As a hospitalist, I had observed that obese patients have more prolonged hospital course and cost of treating them was astronomical in comparison to normal weight patient. But when I tried to find good quality studies for the impact of obesity in inpatient settings, I could hardly find any. At this point, I made it a personal mission to find the impact of obesity on health care dollars while patients are hospitalized and to educate my patients how to manage obesity.
How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice?
Any patient who is suffering from obesity and admitted under my service gets counseled about the impact of obesity on their particular disease. We also arrange for a nutritional and dietary consult for morbidly obese patients. Handouts are provided to patients to help them started on a journey to health. If deemed appropriate, referrals are also provided to patients to see obesity medicine physicians.
Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable?
Obesity medicine certification is an index of a physician’s expertise in treating obesity as a disease. It assures patients that a physician has training, experience, and knowledge of obesity medicine and thus assures better outcomes in comparison to a non-board certified physician practicing obesity medicine.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice?
My biggest challenge is to make the patient understand that obesity is one of the contributing factors for their current condition. Another challenge is to follow up with them on long-term basis as I see them only in hospital settings and after discharge patients follow up with their primary care physicians who may or may not have exposure to obesity medicine.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
To educate and train current residents and medical students in current concepts of obesity medicine. To help them understand that current epidemic of obesity demands attention from physicians.
What do you wish other physicians knew about treating obesity?
To treat obesity as any other chronic lifestyle-related disease like hypertension or diabetes. To address it with patients in a non-confrontational way and not to blame patients for their obesity. Help is available and there are many board certified obesity medicine physicians available in the community.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with obesity medicine?
It is a dynamic field with cutting-edge research on its way. You can make a difference in a patient’s life by helping them manage their obesity.
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