craig primack, md
I started working with our local hospital in their medical weight loss program in 2003 or so. At the time, they wanted to be able to advertise “certified” obesity medicine specialists and sent me to the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) conference in the fall of 2005. After a few conferences and CME, I took the old board called the ABBM. A few years later the ABOM and Obesity Medicine was born.
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?
I was trained in internal medicine and pediatrics. Before coming to obesity medicine, I thought I knew what I was doing to help patients with obesity. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. At my first conference, my eyes were opened to 1) very low and low-calorie diets 2) the proper use of anti-obesity medicine 3) that you could do obesity medicine as a full-time career.
How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice?
I run and see patients in a comprehensive medical weight management program in Arizona. We have 4 locations and 5.5 full-time physicians practicing only obesity medicine.
Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable?
Primary medical specialty training does not give physicians and allied health professionals the proper tools to talk to, examine, and develop a treatment plan for those patients with obesity. Obesity medicine education trains providers to best take care of this disease.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice?
Obesity is that disease that everyone sees. It is not hidden like diabetes and hypertension may be. The commonality among patients is the overweight but the reasons that each patient struggles with the disease are different. One may overeat carbs, one may skip meals, one may be an emotional eater, one may have some strong obesity genes. It’s my job and passion to find out for each patient their particular problem and best help them to find a solution.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
My mission is to help change the weight of the world. I started this in my own practice with 2 physicians and 1 location and have grown to cover the patients of the greater Phoenix area. It continues through my involvement as a board member of the Obesity Medicine Association.
What do you wish other physicians knew about treating obesity?
I believe it is not what people eat but the why. When we figure out the why patients lose weight.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with obesity medicine?
I think even though we have been treating obesity for several years, obesity treatment is still in its infancy and there is a lot that we can accomplish together.
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