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Weight Control Center Offers Medically Based Approach to Weight Loss

A new Weight Control Center at CUMC is now providing treatment for overweight and obese patients and even people of normal weight who want to prevent weight gain. The main goal of the Weight Control Center is to make patients healthier, not get them into bikinis for the summer.
”The center operates under the philosophy that obesity is not a personal failing but a disease that requires treatment like any other. There’s a great need for specialized weight control centers, because as physicians, we don’t receive special training on how to treat obesity,” says Judith Korner, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine in the division of endocrinology and the center’s director. “Helping someone achieve weight loss is not so easy; it’s not a simple matter of just giving someone a prescription for a pill.”
Unlike commercial weight loss centers, the Weight Control Center at CUMC has the medical expertise to fully evaluate a patient’s health. Before designing a plan, Dr. Korner and Michelle Lee, M.D., instructor in clinical medicine, check that obesity-related conditions like obstructive sleep apnea are treated and look for disorders such as hypothyroidism that can cause weight gain or impede weight loss.
The center’s physicians then work with each patient to design a comprehensive individualized weight control plan. The first task is often re-calibrating goals. “When people have unrealistic goals, they get disappointed and frustrated when they don’t meet those goals, and that’s a setup for regaining weight,” Dr. Korner says.
Changing eating habits and increasing physical activity are at the core of every individualized plan, but patient preference and lifestyle dictate the details. People who travel a lot and eat in restaurants, for example, need different guidance than people who cook all their meals at home. People who need structure in their lives may benefit from pre-made liquid meals. And people who are completely sedentary may need a trainer to become active in a safe manner.
The center also works with nutritionists and psychologists who specialize in behavioral modification and eating disorders.
“Even a 5 percent weight loss can improve a lot of obesity-related conditions and that’s usually readily achievable,” Dr. Korner says. “But I won’t pretend that losing even that amount of weight is easy. People have to be shown how to do it.”
For more information about the center, call 212-305-5568.