MEET THE DIPLOMATE
mahtab ahmed, md
Dr. Mahtab Ahmed, originally from Bangladesh, completed his family practice residency in Dayton, Ohio in 1995. Since then he has worked in a variety of settings from urgent care, private practice, to working for large and small hospital corporations and now in an employer-based Health and Wellness Clinic in rural Northwest Ohio. He has found his passion in helping his patients and communities both struggle and succeed with their obesity and associated illnesses. He especially enjoys teaching patients so they actually can understand the cycle of weight gain, disease progress and ultimately the reversal of the disease as they move towards a healthy weight. He has given talks on obesity medicine for grand rounds at teaching hospitals and workplaces. His current position within Activate Healthcare has provided him with a very favorable setting in which to promote science-based weight care management.
Why did you decide to pursue ABOM certification?
I was trained to treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, CAD, HTN, and hyperlipidemia in a traditional way, which does not effectively manage obesity. It is well established that obesity (excess body fat) has a central role in the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases. I recognized that I was not prepared to help patients with effective and safe weight loss strategies and maintenance. About 7 years ago, ABOM guided me to start learning the science of obesity medicine. I decided to pursue ABOM certification to gain self-confidence in helping my community as an obesity medicine physician.
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 mind?
Yes, my “aha” moment was during a weekend course on obesity basics by the Obesity Medicine Association (previously ASBP) about 7 years ago. This course introduced me to the current knowledge of obesity medicine. It was packed with the science and scope of obesity medicine. It was an “eye-opening” course! It was enough to change my mind to pursue my career from traditional family medicine to obesity medicine.
How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice?
Currently, I am working in an employer-based Health and Wellness Clinic. We provide an annual health examination and health fair during which we collect health biometrics and assess their CV risk. The high-risk individuals are offered intensive weight management program (behavioral, nutritional, physical activity, and medications) from our clinic for effective, safe, user-friendly weight loss and maintenance. We also offer intensive weight loss program for Type 2 DM patients with obesity. For our regular family medicine patients, we use motivational interviewing to advance their stages of change in terms of weight management, even though they may have come for an acute visit for URI. The goal is to activate patients to take charge of their health and obesity via a support of weight management program from our clinic.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice?
One of the challenges is helping patients to learn about obesity medicine and motivating to make changes in their lifestyle.
Currently, my practice is limited primary care to employees and their immediate family members in the Wellness Clinic. I would like to have more dedicated time for obesity medicine as well as service available to the community.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievement is telling patients we are reducing or stopping their “chronic” medications because THEY have been successful in their weight loss goals! Another significant achievement would be the result of our intensive weight loss program was better than CDC Diabetes Prevention Program. We presented this data with a poster at the OMA annual meeting in September 2017.
What do you wish other family physicians knew about obesity?
My wish is three-fold. First, I wish more FPs were interested in the pathophysiology of obesity; second, that more FPs would consider obesity as a chronic disease and third, that they would treat obesity just the way they treat other chronic diseases.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with obesity medicine?
As a healthcare worker, it is our duty to spread the current knowledge and science of obesity in our communities. I gave lectures for obesity management in residency programs and other settings in my local communities. Everywhere I went, I recognized an intense interest in weight management. Sadly, we just do not have enough board-certified obesity medicine physicians in our community. Motivation and knowledge from the providers and patients and national support by insurance companies may be able to define a path for improvement of management of obesity.
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