'Meet our Members' is a series of interviews in which World Obesity's members discuss their organisation, purpose, projects, challenges and successes. We also hope that it may identify opportunities for members to connect with and reach out to each other to share experiences, ideas, and advice.
Meet the Korean Society for the Study of Obesity (KSSO) - an advanced professional society aiming for better studies and academic approaches to obesity in Korea.
Tell us about your organisation and its main purpose
KSSO was founded in 1992 by the late professor Tae-Hee Lee and we celebrated our 30th anniversary this year. We have had numerous academic achievements supported by marvellous researchers over the past years, and our society warmly welcomes all physicians and experts who are willing to pave the way together for obesity. The International Congress on Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome (ICOMES), held by KSSO, seeks more interactive communications and activities of all aspects of research in obesity. In addition, KSSO also publishes 'The Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome (JOMES)', an official international research journal for innovation. Through these opportunities to expand the view on obesity, KSSO will continue to support and make a great impact with all experts around the world.
What projects are you currently working on and plan to undertake in the future?
- In 2021, KSSO launched summer and winter conferences in addition to the existing spring conference, and ICOMES in order to reinforce obesity education and academic communication in various regions of Korea.
- Furthermore, KSSO is providing basic and advanced courses for becoming an obesity expert. Doctors, nurses, dietitians, and exercise specialists for health, who want to become obesity specialists in their field, are eligible to take the courses, which run annually.
- We are publishing and updating the 'Guideline for the Management of Obesity in Korea' as well as the 'Obesity Fact Sheet' on a regular basis in order to inspire policy making on obesity and related chronic diseases.
- We are posting a series of articles in a newspaper under the theme of 'Correcting the Misconceptions about Obesity' in order to convey the correct knowledge about obesity to the general public.
- As of 2019, KSSO is hosting the Obesity 25 Seconds Film Festival, in which the general public create a short movie under the theme of obesity to raise awareness of obesity. The 1st Obesity Film Festival was held in 2019 under the theme of 'Misconceptions and prejudices for people living with obesity.' The theme for 2022 is 'Post-COVID, Back to the normal.'
- This year, we established a cohort to study obesity and metabolic syndrome among the Korean population (Gangwon Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome Study, GOMS). Baseline data collection was completed in July 2022.
- We are also planning to develop a mobile weight management application, which the general public and patients can easily use.
ICOMES 2021 was held from 2 – 4 September 2021 under the theme of ‘Cutting-edge Science in Obesity’. There were 805 participants (103 international) and 152 abstract submissions (55 international).
Dr Robert H. Eckel of the University of Cololado Anschutz Medical Center, USA, and Dr Michael Nauck of Ruhr University, Germany, delivered plenary lectures about the implications of obesity in cardiometabolic risk, and incretin-based obesity treatment, respectively.
The Spring Conference was held on 26 and 27 March 2021 under the theme of ‘Precision Medicine for Obesity’. Dr Ruth Loos of Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, USA, delivered a plenary lecture about precision medicine in obesity and the value of genetic information.
Additional summer and winter conferences were launched in 2021 to reinforce obesity education and academic communication in various regions of Korea. Obesity Summer 2021 focused on obesity research and new anti-obesity medication, while Obesity Winter 2021 covered sessions about analysis and consultation of obesity, standards and future of obesity, and ODOT (one day course for obesity training) was held.
What are the greatest challenges that your organisation faces regarding the prevention, treatment and/or reduction of obesity and overweight?
There are areas in need of policy change that can assist in the prevention and treatment of obesity. The lifestyle modification aspects of obesity management, including diet therapy, exercise therapy and behaviour therapy, require a considerable amount of intervention from doctors and other professionals. Nevertheless, consultation fees are not charged according to the duration of consultation in the current healthcare system in Korea. The consultation fee is the same regardless of the duration of the consultation, which means that fees for a 3 minute consultation and 30 minute consultation are the same.
Policy change in this area would encourage doctors and other professionals to provide longer consultations and interventions for people living with obesity in a more comprehensive manner.
In your opinion, what action/s (by global organisations, local governments, healthcare professionals, etc) do you think could have the most impact in reducing the burden of this disease?
We believe that the actions by global organisations, local governments, and healthcare professionals are all important. However, policies made by the government certainly have a great impact on reducing the burden of obesity.
We have some policies in place that are aimed at helping to reduce the burden of obesity in Korea:
- The government has made recommendations for healthy eating in mass media;
- Sales of high calorie/low nutritional food products are restricted in school zones to prevent childhood obesity;
- Vouchers for sport education are provided to people with low income;
- Health insurance incentives are offered to companies that provide a healthy environment for employees. Companies have to provide programs for improving physical activity, healthy diet, and obesity management to obtain this incentive; and
- Health insurance was applied to bariatric surgery from 2019.
The Spring Training Course was held on 21 February 2021. Sessions included basic metabolic rate and obesity, treatment strategy for diabetes and complications, obesity management in the age of COVID-19, treatment strategy for metabolic disorder, characteristics and management of obesity by life cycle in children and adolescents, obesity and nutrition, surgical treatment for obesity, and obesity and chronic disease management using IT devices.
The Fall Training Course was held on 21 November 2021 under the theme of ‘Practice of Obesity Treatment and Management in the Era of COVID-19.’
Courses for Obesity Experts: We also provide both a basic and advanced course for obesity experts.
In which areas does your organisation need the most assistance?
As mentioned, there are areas in need of policy help in the prevention and treatment of obesity. Policy change in the consultation fees would encourage doctors and other professionals to provide longer consultations and interventions for people living with obesity in a more comprehensive manner.
What initiatives have you undertaken that you believe have had a significant positive impact for people living with obesity and overweight?
We think our publications have had a significant positive impact for people living with obesity. Our official guideline, 'Guideline for the Management of Obesity in Korea' as well as our 'Obesity Fact Sheet' help physicians to provide obesity consultation and inspire policy making on obesity and related chronic diseases.
Our article series in a newspaper under the theme of 'Correcting the Misconceptions about Obesity' convey the correct knowledge about obesity to the general public.
Furthermore, we are trying to raise awareness of obesity thorough Obesity Film Festival, in which membera of the general public create a short movie under the theme of obesity (video below).