MEET THE DIPLOMATE

natasha agbai, md

 

Natasha Agbai, MD received her BS at Emory University and MD from UCLA school of Medicine. She completed her Pediatrics residency at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. She is board certified in Pediatrics and a diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Agbai is a pediatrician at Discover Health and oversees an online pediatric weight management program called Weight Loss For Kids. Her main interests include obesity medicine, obesity prevention through parent education, and democratizing health and wellness and bringing credible, effective, and sustainable weight loss programs to children.

Why did you pursue obesity medicine certification? I was driven by a desire to offer parents and children reliable, evidence-based information in a field rife with inaccuracies. As a primary care doctor, becoming an expert in a critical area like pediatric obesity has been incredibly fulfilling. It allows me to make a real difference by countering misinformation with solid expertise.

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? My journey took a personal turn when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, despite believing I was eating healthily. I realized I’d been misled by clever marketing and overconsumption of processed ‘health foods’. This was a wake-up call. I needed to learn the truth about nutrition and wellness, not just for myself, but to educate others for their health benefits.

How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice? In my practice, I specialize in pediatric obesity consultations, management, diagnosis, and treatment. My ABOM certification not only sets me apart locally but also reinforces the high-quality care I’m committed to providing. Additionally, I run an online program called Weight Loss for Kids (www.weightlossforkids.com), which focuses on intensive health and lifestyle treatment.

Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable? Obesity medicine certification is crucial as it represents an objective marker of expertise in a complex and vital field of healthcare.

What is your greatest success story so far? A memorable success was working with a young girl who had a very picky palate, leading to a rising BMI and elevated cholesterol. Her eating habits were a major source of family conflict. Through our collaborative efforts, she gradually started eating the same foods as her family. Her BMI and cholesterol normalized, and her stress shifted from food-related issues to normal childhood concerns like school.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice? Honestly, my biggest challenge is marketing. I’ve developed an evidence-informed program, but without the backing of a major medical center, getting it into clinical trials and spreading the word is a significant hurdle.

What do you wish other physicians knew about treating obesity? The outdated ‘eat less, move more’ mantra needs revising. Calorie counting, especially for children, is often ineffective. A holistic approach focusing on overall wellness, rather than just weight or BMI, is essential. It’s also important to understand the limitations of BMI, particularly in the overweight category for children.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with obesity medicine? Pursuing the ABOM certification has been a decision I’m incredibly proud of. It has deepened my understanding and ability to impact the field of obesity medicine positively.


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