Over the Past Decade, Person-First Language Was Used in Only About Half of Diabetes-Focused Articles and Fewer than 1% of Obesity Articles, Finds New Study

New research from Gelesis highlights ongoing stigmatization of people with obesity and diabetes

Gelesis (NYSE: GLS), the maker of Plenity for weight management, presented new findings about the role of language in obesity and diabetes scientific literature at the American Diabetes Association’s annual conference. The study sought to understand the extent to which person-first language, or language that identifies people as people as individuals first before their diagnosis, is used in scientific articles. Person-first language (e.g. referring to a person with diabetes as such, instead of “a diabetic”) is generally endorsed by several professional societies including the American Medical Association and American Diabetes Association to help reduce stigmatization. Yet in practice, the data highlighted that person-first language was used in fewer than 1% of obesity articles.

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Person-first language is generally endorsed by several professional societies including the American Medical Association and American Diabetes Association to help reduce stigmatization. Yet in practice, the data highlighted that person-first language was used in fewer than 1% of obesity articles. (Photo: Business Wire)

Person-first language is generally endorsed by several professional societies including the American Medical Association and American Diabetes Association to help reduce stigmatization. Yet in practice, the data highlighted that person-first language was used in fewer than 1% of obesity articles. (Photo: Business Wire)

The authors’ final analysis included over 100,000 scholarly articles for diabetes and obesity published from 2011-2020. The results showed that while the use of person-first language in diabetes articles has increased over the past ten years, adoption has recently slowed. And among obesity-focused articles, person-first language is generally not used, suggesting a widespread lack of recognition of its importance within the scientific community. Progress was minimal: 0.1% of obesity-focused articles used person-first language in 2011; by 2020, that figure was 6.6%. Obesity articles were more likely to use person-first language if the journal had a policy of encouraging the use of such language. Among diabetes articles, the use of person-first language increased by 3.1% per year between 2011-2020.

“We know that language and communication are important barriers in health care and while various entities are becoming more aware of the problem and ways to fix it, our academic and scientific literature is not there yet," said Jane K. Dickinson, RN, PhD, Program Director of the Diabetes Education and Management Program at Columbia University. “This is perhaps one of the easiest barriers to better care that we can overcome, which means we need to use these results as inspiration for change.”

Added Elaine Chiquette, Pharm.D., Gelesis’ Chief Scientific Officer, “Obesity is a chronic disease that affects millions of Americans, and we hear time and time again how weight stigma can impact people, for example by worsening physical and mental health and discouraging people from seeking care. At Gelesis, we are a consumer-focused company that aims to deliver new solutions to people struggling with their weight, including working to eliminate some of that stigma. That includes improving access to clinically proven options through our telemedicine endeavors, providing an evidence-based, affordable solution for weight management. We believe stigmatization interferes with the success of weight loss interventions and these findings highlight the need for a call to action to fight against bias and reframe the weight management conversation both in research and in practice.”

About Gelesis

Gelesis Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GLS) (“Gelesis”) is a consumer-centered biotherapeutics company and the maker of Plenity®, which is inspired by nature and FDA cleared to aid in weight management. Our first-of-their-kind non-systemic superabsorbent hydrogels are made entirely from naturally derived building blocks. They are inspired by the composition and mechanical properties of raw vegetables, taken by capsule, and act locally in the digestive system, so people feel satisfied with smaller portions. Our portfolio includes Plenity® and potential therapies in development for patients with Type 2 Diabetes, Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)/Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), and Functional Constipation. For more information, visit gelesis.com, or connect with us on Twitter @GelesisInc.

Plenity® is indicated to aid weight management in adults with excess weight or obesity, a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25–40 kg/m², when used in conjunction with diet and exercise.

Important Safety Information about Plenity

● Patients who are pregnant or are allergic to cellulose, citric acid, sodium stearyl fumarate, gelatin, or titanium dioxide should not take Plenity.

● To avoid impact on the absorption of medications:

  • For all medications that should be taken with food, take them after starting a meal.
  • For all medications that should be taken without food (on an empty stomach), continue taking on an empty stomach or as recommended by your physician.

● The overall incidence of side effects with Plenity was no different than placebo. The most common side effects were diarrhea, distended abdomen, infrequent bowel movements, and flatulence.

● Contact a doctor right away if problems occur. If you have a severe allergic reaction, severe stomach pain, or severe diarrhea, stop using Plenity until you can speak to your doctor.

Rx Only. For the safe and proper use of Plenity or more information, talk to a healthcare professional, read the Patient Instructions for Use, or call 1-844-PLENITY.

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements, estimates, targets and projections in this press release may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the federal securities laws. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “possible,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “strive,” “would” and similar expressions may identify forward-looking statements, but the absence of these words does not mean that statement is not forward looking. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our or our management team’s expectations, hopes, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including those relating to Gelesis’ business combination with Capstar Special Purpose Acquisition Corp. (“Capstar”) and its expected benefits, Gelesis’ performance following the business combination, the competitive environment in which Gelesis operates, the expected future operating and financial performance and market opportunities of Gelesis and statements regarding Gelesis’ expectations, hopes, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future. In addition, any statements that refer to projections, forecasts, or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Gelesis assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Gelesis gives no assurance that any expectations set forth in this press release will be achieved. Various risks and uncertainties (some of which are beyond our control) or other factors could cause actual future results, performance or events to differ materially from those described herein. Some of the factors that may impact future results and performance may include, without limitation: (i) the size, demand and growth potential of the markets for Plenity® and Gelesis’ other product candidates and Gelesis’ ability to serve those markets; (ii) the degree of market acceptance and adoption of Gelesis’ products; (iii) Gelesis’ ability to develop innovative products and compete with other companies engaged in the weight loss industry; (iv) Gelesis’ ability to finance and complete successfully the commercial launch of Plenity® and its growth plans, including new possible indications and the clinical data from ongoing and future studies about liver and other diseases; (v) failure to realize the anticipated benefits of the business combination, including as a result of a delay or difficulty in integrating the businesses of Capstar and Gelesis; (vi) the ability of Gelesis to issue equity or equity-linked securities or obtain debt financing in the future; (vii) the outcome of any legal proceedings instituted against Capstar, Gelesis, or others in connection with the business combination; (viii) the ability of Gelesis to maintain its listing on the New York Stock Exchange; (ix) the risk that the business combination disrupts current plans and operations of Gelesis as a result of Gelesis being a publicly listed issuer; (x) the regulatory pathway for Gelesis’ products and responses from regulators, including the FDA and similar regulators outside of the United States; (xi) the ability of Gelesis to grow and manage growth profitably, maintain relationships with customers and suppliers and retain Gelesis’ management and key employees; (xii) costs related to the business combination, including costs associated with the Gelesis being a publicly listed issuer; (xiii) changes in applicable laws or regulations; (xiv) the possibility that Gelesis may be adversely affected by other economic, business, regulatory and/or competitive factors; (xv) Gelesis’ estimates of expenses and profitability; (xvi) ongoing regulatory requirements, (xvii) any competing products or technologies that may emerge, (xviii) the volatility of the telehealth market in general, or insufficient patient demand; (xix) the ability of Gelesis to defend its intellectual property and satisfy regulatory requirements; (xx) the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on Gelesis’ business; (xxi) the limited operating history of Gelesis; (xxii) the potential impact of inflation on our operating expenses and costs of goods; and (xxiii) other important factors discussed in the “Risk Factors” section of Gelesis’ most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, and in other filings that Gelesis makes with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These filings address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements.


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