Recent Mind-Body Medicine School Graduate LaVera Forbes Advances Awareness of Food Addiction and Weight Bias
LaVera Forbes recently completed her PhD in Mind Body Medicine, and has been actively creating her new professional identity. One of the ways she has accomplished this is presenting the research she conducted at Saybrook on the topic of obesity and food addiction at professional conferences. Her proposals have been accepted for the following conferences, and she awaits decisions for several others: The National Wellness Conference, the International Conference and Exhibition on Obesity and Weight Management, and the Health, Wellness, and Society Conference.
Presenting at a conference is a way for LaVera to reach a large audience and provide participants with tools and strategies they can apply in their practice to better help people suffering from food addiction. LaVera has combined an evidence-based research approach on the topic of food addiction with her passion in an area that has affected her personally. Passion fueled with knowledge is sure to make a lasting impression on conference participants. LaVera explained that her desire to study food addiction stems from her own personal experience. Her mom and two brothers died early due to complications of diabetes and heart disease, which she feels was linked to food addiction. “If my research can prevent one other family from experiencing the pain and suffering that my family endured due to the effects of food addiction, then it will all be worthwhile.”
Prior to presenting at national conferences LaVera began by offering her research on food addiction to physicians at Grand Rounds as part of her dissertation. The aim of her study was to assess whether participating in a one-hour lecture on physician weight bias and the biochemical sources of food addiction would change physicians’ knowledge and attitudes about their overweight and obese patients. The hospitals she worked with approved her presentation for Continuing Medical Education units, which is appealing for busy medical professionals. For her dissertation she designed the lecture for MD’s and then delivered the lecture to 70 physicians in three different hospitals. To assess the impact of the presentation on their knowledge and attitudes, she designed a pre- and post-test, and conducted individual interviews with 6 physicians. The results indicated a significant increase in physician knowledge about food addiction, greater self-awareness about weight bias, and a reduction in negative attitudes toward overweight and obese patients from the pre-to post-test. She determined that the physicians became more aware of their own bias, and more sensitive and empathetic to their overweight and obese patients.
As LaVera continues to promote the findings of her research on food addiction with colleagues and participants at national conferences, she realized that she transformed herself into an expert in the topic of food addiction. She reflects that the courses at the School of Mind Body Medicine taught her how to conduct research, and that the research she did gave her the confidence to present her findings to other health professionals. During her academic studies LaVera wrote many of her papers on the topic of food addiction and obesity. By focusing on her topic early in her academic career she became abreast of the current research and was able to identify gaps that she could address with her dissertation.
LaVera Forbes is continuing to pursue her academic interests by developing products and services for healthcare providers and overweight and obese individuals. She has been accepted into The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), which is a startup accelerator that helps technology entrepreneurs in Georgia launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides business incubation and acceleration services to startups through coaching, connecting, and community.