Future of Health: Spotlight on Form Health
Form founder Evan Richardson talks about destigmatizing the emerging field of Obesity Medicine.
Last Updated: June 1, 2022
Published: July 1, 2022
Over the last several decades, mental health has become acknowledged as a medical issue which has opened up conversations, sparked innovative treatment, and released individuals who suffer from shame and stigma. Form Health is leading the charge to destigmatize obesity in the same way, by treating it as the chronic medical condition it is.
For founder Evan Richardson, the impact of obesity is personal. “My grandfather suffered with obesity for most of his adult life. I saw him struggle every day with an inability to lose the weight that prevented him from spending time with his family in the way that he wanted to. It was incredibly important to him to lose that weight, but he just wasn't able to do it, ” says Evan.
This experience helped Evan understand the stigma and misconceptions surrounding obesity, and became a big part of his reason to start Form, an Obesity Medicine practice that delivers science-backed care through telehealth. “As a society, we have long blamed the individual with obesity for being lazy or lacking willpower. The data’s been clear for a long time: This isn’t about willpower: obesity is a metabolic disease,” says Evan.
“One of the key problems that has kept people from wanting to talk about new approaches to obesity is blame. As a society, we’ve blamed individuals for their weight in a way that we don’t blame patients who suffer from any other health conditions. Fortunately, that’s starting to change as obesity becomes recognized as a health condition. When something becomes medical, it stops being your fault.”
Taking a holistic approach to destigmatizing and treating obesity
Form helps patients with obesity and overweight (BMI of 30+, or 27+ with weight-related comorbidities) lose weight and achieve their health goals by pairing each patient with a board certified doctor and registered dietitian who specializes in weight loss.
Evan points out that Form takes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable lifestyle changes. It’s not about counting calories or macros or reaching a certain BMI. Instead, they use a people-centric approach, taking the time to get to know the patient, evaluating their health goals, and identifying ways to help him or her achieve the desired outcome. Each treatment plan is unique and includes lifestyle interventions along with FDA-approved weight loss medication, if appropriate.
Ultimately, Evan and his team want to improve the quality of life for individuals who suffer real, medical consequences from obesity, including spending up to twice as much time in the healthcare system in a given year. Studies cited by CDC estimate that the annual medical costs for adults suffering from obesity are $1,861 higher than that for people with healthy weight, with nearly $173 billion dollars poured into treating obesity-related conditions in the United States in 2019 alone.
How Form tackles the two major misconceptions about obesity
There are two major misconceptions about obesity. First, obesity remains a public-yet-taboo topic. “If you have diabetes, if you have depression, if you have a serious heart condition; that's a personal matter. I wouldn't be able to tell that about you standing here, right? If you have a BMI of 40, you can be ‘diagnosed’ by any person at 100 yards,” says Evan.
Form is reframing obesity by treating it as a chronic medical condition, showing patients that having obesity does not represent a personal failure. Instead, it is a medical condition that can result from a variety of underlying biological factors including hormonal, metabolic, and genetic factors. The condition is complicated by societal stigma, modern diets, and increasingly sedentary lives.
“The second challenge is that our field of Obesity Medicine is still pretty unknown, even though it’s a board certified, fellowship trained subspecialty just like pediatrics or cardiology,” says Evan.
More physicians are starting to recognize the emerging field of obesity medicine and partnering with Form by referring their patients to get specialized care. “When I started Form here three years ago, many physicians didn’t see obesity as a disease. I had physicians that would look me in the eyes and say this is something people are doing to themselves,” he says.
“Now, just three years later, the approval by the FDA of new medications and the growth of our medical specialty has started to change physician understanding of obesity as a medical condition and opened their thinking to helping their patients access medical weight loss programs like Form to get great results.”
Form’s team is destigmatizing obesity and helping patients change their lives by making quality obesity medicine available to everyone. Patients achieve significant weight loss, 15% in 12 months on average, along with non-scale victories that dramatically impact their quality of life. A few examples from recent patient reviews:
(Form) helped me get to a weight where I could get pregnant and now I've become a mom for the second time!
I feel happier, more relaxed and more comfortable in my body.
My energy level is higher and I’m enjoying being able to do things such as zip-lining and water sliding on our most recent cruise.