Gem is not only achieving levels of weight loss that rival the best treatments currently available like bariatric surgery, but they are also very consistent with everyone having great success, which is rarely observed. - Justin Ryder, Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern School of Medicine
PHOENIX (PRWEB) December 27, 2022
A research study presented at Obesity Week in San Diego in November has raised some eyebrows in the obesity research and treatment community. Obesity Week is an international research conference sponsored by The Obesity Society in which the best and brightest minds converge to discuss the latest breakthroughs in treatment of obesity as a chronic metabolic condition. The research study was co-authored by pediatric obesity experts from the University of Minnesota, Arizona State University and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK , a division of the National Institutes of Health). The abstract highlighted the outcomes of a residential obesity treatment program named Gem Academy.
Gem Academy (Phoenix, AZ) has, in the last 4 years produced outcomes in treating adolescent obesity in teen girls that has had tremendous efficacy. Gem Academy participants have averaged an astonishing 38% lost over the course of approximately a year. That Gem Academy has been able to do all of this through lifestyle intervention is even more remarkable. By way of comparison the typical weight loss in lifestyle management is 5-7%, the better medications are edging toward 5-15% and bariatric surgery produces around 30% weight loss on average.
Gem Academy is in the form of a boarding program and is located in Scottsdale Arizona. It is the only program to offer this type of treatment in the country. Gem’s executive director and founder is Jim Hershey, the former clinical director of Academy of the Sierras (later named Wellspring Academy) which was the first of this type of program founded in 2004. “Gem has been an evolution of this type of treatment for the last 15 years”. Hershey started with the prior concept in March of 2007. “There have been some great advances in the field of obesity treatment in that amount of time. Obviously in the areas of diet and movement but also in the importance of regulated sleep and stress management. I think these are the areas where we are able to make the biggest difference in helping our girls control their condition”, states Hershey.
Dr. Aaron Kelly, professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School who is leading the research collaboration agrees, “We believe there may be something in the experience for the girls in the Gem program that works on the stress regulation level. Active stress management, along with the multiple other intervention components offered in Gem, may help the body to resist the strong urge toward weight regain as we have seen in many of the clinical trials.”
“The results of the Gem Academy are remarkable in a number of ways. They are not only achieving levels of weight loss that rival the best treatments currently available like bariatric surgery, but they are also very consistent with everyone having great success, which is rarely observed. We need to conduct rigorous research to understand why the outcomes of this innovative program are outstanding, and examine the underlying biological implications of such tremendous weight loss compared to other treatments” said Justin Ryder, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Vice Chair of Research for the Department of Surgery at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Another point of interest is the replicability of the results. This intervention has been similarly effective with every participant regardless of race, background, age (13-19), family of origin, etc. With the consistent increase in the rates of childhood obesity the need for greater understanding and broader treatment options for the disease of obesity are a necessity.