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Yale Weight Loss Program Goes Primetime

July 12, 2022
by Cecelia Smith

A Telemundo TV program about bariatric surgery featuring Yale School of Medicine faculty Drs. John Morton and Jorge Moreno received a 2022 Emmy Award.

Yale School of Medicine faculty Drs. John Morton and Jorge Moreno can now add “Emmy winner” to their CVs. The physicians are the featured experts in an award-winning episode of the Telemundo show, “Tu Salud Tu Familia - Cirugia Bariatrica” — a 30-minute segment on the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery.

But don’t ask them for autographs, just yet.

“It is certainly exciting to have been a part of the show; but the real win for us is the spotlight that the success of the show can shine on bariatric surgery, and our opportunity as an academic medical system to engage a broad community in our research and care options,” said Dr. Morton, Chief of Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery for the Yale New Haven Health System.

“Tu Salud Tu Familia (Your Health Your Family)”, is a weekly entertainment program focused on educating the Latinx community on a range of health issues, including the value of clinical trials to develop treatment options. A partnership between the host network, Telemundo, and the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, adds Yale physicians to the roster of experts tapped by producers for on-camera perspective.

“I got an email from my Chief saying ‘Does anyone speak Spanish that can talk about weight loss?’ and I thought, ‘Sure!’ … An Emmy was certainly not what I was expecting, but that honor really goes to the producers of the show and YCCI for the opportunity to tell this important story to an audience that needs to hear it,” said Dr. Moreno, a Yale Medicine internist with a special interest in the management of obesity-related conditions.

Among Latinos in the United States, obesity and metabolic syndrome are increasingly prevalent. Although bariatric surgery has become one of the primary treatment modalities for obesity and type 2 diabetes, rates of the surgical procedure are disproportionally low in qualifying Latino patients relative to non-Latino patients. Both Drs. Morton and Moreno are bilingual in Spanish and engage their patients in the language they are most comfortable.

“Cultural competency is important in delivering care to patients most in need and I’m grateful that my mother (from El Salvador) insisted on my learning Spanish,” said Dr. Morton.

“There are several reasons for the disparities — insurance, access to care, mistrust in the system, for example. But there’s also evidence to suggest that many of these patients just aren’t aware of the treatment options,” said Dr. Moreno.

For Drs. Moreno and Morton, closing this knowledge gap is an opportunity to save lives.

“Information is power, both for patients seeking a better quality of life, and for physicians who are caring for these individuals and considering courses of care,” said Dr. Morton.

And although the physicians are not signing autographs, they have something better to suggest …

“Come see us at Yale and let us sign you a doctor’s note!” said Dr. Morton.

Yale Medicine’s bariatric surgery program is recognized for its safety and expertise, serving patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40+, or 35-39 with accompanying health problems.

Submitted by Stevi Kramer on July 12, 2022