Notes from TOS 2011 (Part 1)

A week has passed since I returned from The Obesity Society’s annual conference, held this year in Orlando Florida. Unfortunately the lack of wireless in the conference halls  meant I was unable to live tweet without accumulating large data roaming fees. So over the next few blog posts I’ll highlight some of the sessions I attended.

I don’t expect emotionally moving talks at scientific conferences, so Maria Caprigno’s personal account of her struggle to have weight loss surgery and to have her insurance company cover its cost during a pre-conference session on Saturday caught me by surprise. Her weight gain and her struggle to lose weight began at age 4. Put on a diet, she would lose no more than 10 pounds, only to regain it back. By age 13, she was told by health care providers that if she didn’t stopping gaining weight, she would not live to see her eighteenth birthday.

Seeking help, she came to believe that weight loss surgery would be her last chance at life. But the surgery itself is not without risks and not only was there the challenge of finding a physician who would be willing to perform the surgery on a young teenager, but also the issue of having the surgery covered by insurance. Her application to have the procedure covered was denied twice before going to a 3rd party arbitrator where it was approved for January 2010.

Now 16, and post-a successful surgery, she has lost 80 lbs. She’s also working to raise awareness about childhood obesity as a student patient advocate.

The following links provide more on Maria’s story:

CNN Video: Teen opens up about growing up obese

Norwood NEws: Teen takes fight against obesity to D.C.

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