John Morton, MD, MPH, MHA, is division chief of Yale Medicine Bariatric & Minimally Invasive Surgery, and vice chair of Surgical Quality for the Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Health System’s six hospitals.
Dr. Morton has been practicing bariatric surgery for 18 years, ever since his surgical training, when he started to notice that patients who’d had serious medical problems before weight loss surgery discovered they no longer needed insulin or hypertension medication after the surgery. Doctors now know that weight loss—be it surgical or nonsurgical—prolongs life, restores mobility, and lowers the risks of cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and other serious illnesses. “You start to get an idea of what a burden obesity is when you relieve these patients of that burden. These patients were affected, literally, from head to toe,” Dr. Morton says.
The good news is that treatments are better than ever. “Right now, I think we're present at the creation of a unique approach to obesity,” says Dr. Morton, who plans to launch a Yale Medicine weight loss program and provide a range of services under one roof, including support for lifestyle changes, medications, endoscopic treatments, and choices of surgery. “The program will be a lot like what we have for cancer or heart disease, where it's not one single therapy, but multiple therapies that we can combine, and that's really where we can start to see a difference,” he says.
“For many years, people thought, ‘My weight is something I should treat myself,’ or ‘There's not an option available to me.’ But I'm able to restore hope,” Dr. Morton says, “and I can't think of a group of patients that are more grateful and happier with their results.”
In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Morton has been a leader in the weight loss field on a national level. He is a past-president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and current national chair of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), a collaboration between the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery for 800 hospitals. As a surgeon-scientist, he is internationally recognized for his research on both quality improvement in surgery and the metabolic effects of weight loss. His latter work included a study that covered what has become known as the “halo effect” of bariatric surgery, showing the impact one person’s weight loss can have on their entire family.