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Digital Obesity Treatment in Medically Vulnerable Populations

FEBRUARY 5, 2021

Gary Bennett, PhD
Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience
Professor of Global Health and Medicine
Director, Duke Global Digital Health Science Center
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

About the Presentation: After two generations of research attention, the field has been unable to reliably produce clinically meaningful obesity treatment outcomes among those in medically vulnerable populations.  We have been testing new obesity treatment approaches that leverage advances in digital health technology. I will discuss our work to develop the interactive obesity treatment approach (iOTA), a digital therapeutic approach that we created specifically for care settings serving medically vulnerable patients. iOTA drastically minimizes the literacy, numeracy, resource, and contextual barriers that often plague obesity treatments. I will discuss results from several trials testing iOTA in the primary care setting.

About the Presenter:  A full bio for Dr. Bennett can be found here.  An excerpt is as follows:

Gary G. Bennett, PhD is the Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience, Global Health and Medicine and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Duke University.

He directs Duke’s Office of Undergraduate Education, which is comprised of 15 units (including academic advising, academic support, nationally competitive scholarships, merit scholar programs, financial aid, study abroad, as well as vibrant co-curricular programs like Duke Engage and Duke Immerse) that enrich Duke’s undergraduate academic experience. Dr. Bennett is the founding director of the Duke Digital Health Science Center and Past-President of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Bennett’s research program designs, tests, and disseminates digital obesity treatments. He is especially interested in integrating digital health treatments into the primary care setting, particularly those that serve medically vulnerable patients. Dr. Bennett developed the interactive obesity treatment approach (iOTA); his recent work demonstrates the effectiveness of coach-led, obesity treatments — delivered via app, texting, and interactive voice response — in preventing obesity and improving cardiometabolic functioning. His intervention trials in medically vulnerable communities have been the focus of numerous invited addresses for professional and lay audiences. He has authored more than 150 scientific papers, including articles published in JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, American Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Social Science and Medicine, and the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. His research program has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Bennett’s research has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, Time, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox News, and many other media outlets. Dr. Bennett has served on numerous NIH panels, editorial boards, guidelines committees, and advises several health care, and health technology organizations. Bennett was a member of the American Psychological Association’s obesity treatment guidelines panel and has worked with committees at Girl Trek, the Institute of Medicine, American Heart Association, and American Council on Exercise to reduce Americans’ high rates of obesity and physical inactivity.