November 14th, 2010

Blast off to AHA: A Call for Solutions to the Obesity Epidemic in America

Several Cardiology Fellows who are attending this week’s AHA meeting are blogging together on CardioExchange. The Fellows include Susan Cheng, Madhavi Reddy, John Ryan, and Amit Shah. Check back often to learn about the biggest buzz in Chicago this week — whether it’s a poster, a presentation, or the word in the hallways. You can read the preceding post here.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry to announce a delay in our flight because…for the first time…our plane is overweight, and we need to let people off the plane.”

I could not believe my ears. I was on my way to AHA, quietly sandwiched on the plane between the window and a 300+ pound man who was periodically dozing off onto my shoulder, crashing into me with what felt like 100 pounds of force with each dip into dreamland.

I tried to remain focused on the conference ahead, browsing the itinerary and the myriad of great sessions that all seemed to be taking place at the same time. I began, however, to get restless, as we were waiting over 30 minutes for them to unload the plane. Only in America do we have situations where, even if the plane is not full, it is still overweight! I wondered, would this happen in other countries where obesity is not such an issue? I was face to face with the issue….

It was an uncomfortable moment at the time, but looking back, I found it motivating. Of course, we all tackle obesity in the clinic with patients. Additionally, however, we have the challenge and responsibility to tackle the problem on a broader level through research and advocacy, whether we assess mechanisms of obesity, promote public health initiatives, or do other similar work.

My plane had not even lifted off for Chicago, and I felt as if the didactic experience was already beginning. I was grateful for the conference ahead; only by putting our minds together can we start to understand and address one of the most challenging and weighted issues in America.

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