It was my pleasure this week to attend this conference in the capital city of Denmark. I was greeted by a sign at the airport reading ‘welcome to the world’s happiest country’; all my experiences confirmed that this is true.
One of a few non-Danish delegates, I was made to feel extremely welcome at the meeting. Breakfast was served in the registration area. A glance through the attendees list revealed a good multi-disciplinary mix of professionals; a majority were nurses and occupational therapists.
There was a small exhibition area consisting primarily of moving and handling products designed to assist medical staff when lifting heavy patients. I confess that as an former user of such products I didn’t study them and found the spectacle of the exhibition mildly traumatic.
Following the congress leaders’ welcome, the first presentation was an interesting account by a professional chef who had a gastric bypass. He is now a successful author and TV personality. He did not speak much English; a helpful English summary was presented at the end of each slide. He presented along with his dietician, and although I didn’t understand him, it was clear that he spoke with humour and his talk was well received.
After the break, I encountered one of the challenges inherent in a bilingual conference. Speakers had cancelled and changed rooms and I found myself in a Danish language lecture on Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. The speaker’s slides were in English, and he did a good job of explaining diagnosis and treatment, the relationship between sleep apnoea and obesity.
The next talk was by Sidsel de Vos, a psychologist, who gave an excellent talk titled Treatment Plans for obese clients with over-eating plans recommended by the psychologist. This talk opened my eyes to a different perspective.
Sidsel gave an excellent talk, highlighting the broad constellation of eating disorders and the inappropriate but common fallacy of advising simple diets for patients who suffer with complex eating disorders. I had a chance to ask about undiagnosed and therefore untreated binge eating in bariatric surgery patients.
After a delicious traditional Danish lunch, I attended a presentation by Marie Howard, an Occupational Therapist from Ireland. Her talk was entitled An exploration into the impact of obesity on the daily occupational participation of adults attending an Irish weight management clinic.
This excellent talk was greeted with loud applause for shining a light into less-discussed areas of life for obese people. In her research she had looked at work, leisure and sexual functioning.
The following day started with an excellent talk from Valerie Taylor about the The impact of Mental Illness on functioning in Bariatric Patients.
She spoke at length about the link between the two diseases and covered the weight-gain effects of psychotropic medication. I had the opportunity to ask about addiction transfer post bariatric surgery. Her talk should be recorded and distributed; it was excellent.
I then attended another lecture about sleep – this time from Icelandic Psychologist Erla Bjornsdottir. She focussed on Obesity and Sleep disorders. I have been reading a lot in the literature recently about good sleep hygiene recently and Erla gave an enlightening and captivating address.
After another good lunch, I shared a great discussion with three Danes, 2 Occupational Therapist and a nurse. about professional issues as well as cultural differences.
After lunch, Janet Hope, Director of Ausbig http://www.ausbig.com.au shared great insight into the work that she had been involved in setting up an equipment service that gives dignity to larger people. The network she created has grown into an international organisation.
The final lecture I attended was by Professor Björn Richelson who gave an insightful account of national and international perspectives on bariatric surgery. Outlining both positive and negative effects of surgery, he left it with us to decide whether Bariatric Surgery is a good thing or not.
In conclusion, this was an excellent conference in Copenhagen. Many thanks to Novo Nordisk for supporting my attendance through EASO.
EASO Patient Council