Looking to lose weight and keep it off?

How to tell if a medical weight loss program might be your best bet.

Person on scale

With weight loss plans like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Noom everywhere you turn these days, it can be hard to find the one that’s right for you. Luckily, there’s another option. 

Medical weight loss programs help people lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way. To explain, we talked to Bridget Slusarek, Fairview’s Director of Comprehensive Weight Management, and Daniel Leslie, MD, who specializes in treating obesity and weight-related issues.

What is a medical weight loss program?

It’s an approach that covers all aspects of weight loss — medical, emotional, nutrition and activity — to ensure patients are successful. 

It gives you one plan put together by a team of experts and the support to follow it. Most important, it addresses any underlying medical issues that may have made it hard for you to lose weight on your own. 

Everyone’s body is different, so your health history and lab tests will be considered. For example, your hormone levels can contribute to weight gain. You might not realize that some of the prescription drugs you take may make it difficult to lose weight. Some chronic conditions can, too – like sleep apnea, diabetes, or polycystic ovary syndrome.

How is it different from the weight loss plans you see on TV?

  • It’s coordinated. You don’t have to separately sign up for a diet plan, join a gym, and find the right doctor or a health coach. Every part of the plan is meant to work together, so you don’t get contradictory advice from different people. 
  • A team of experts is working for you. Each patient has a dedicated care team, including a medical provider who specializes in weight loss, a registered dietitian, and a lifestyle coach. Others such as a pharmacist or sleep specialist may join the team. 

    “We consider ‘medical’ problems in the context of weight,” Dr. Leslie says. “We try to really take apart all the components of life, including aspects of their health that patients don’t think are related to their medical history but can oftentimes be silent.”
  • It’s personalized. “The best weight loss intervention is the one that the patient chooses,” says Bridget. “We know that one size doesn’t fit all, so a medical weight loss program will help people create a weight loss program that works for them.”
  • You have more options. In a medical weight loss program, you could be a candidate for weight loss medications or weight loss surgery. While those aren’t for everyone, medical experts can help you consider different approaches to meeting your health and weight loss goals. 
 How long does it take? 

Most medical weight loss programs span several months. The majority feature weekly meetings with the provider, dietitian, health coach, or sometimes a chef. By the end, you should be ready to maintain your new healthy lifestyle on your own.

How much weight can I expect to lose? 

That’s the million-dollar question! These programs are designed for people who want to lose a significant amount of weight and improve their overall health. One of the first things participants do is define their individualized weight-loss goal with their team.  

How much does it cost?

The cost varies by program. Talk to your health insurance company about what aspects of a medical weight loss program your plan may cover. You may also be able to use money from a Health Savings Account (HSA). 

How do I know if medical weight loss is right for me? 

Talk to your doctor, or call Fairview’s dedicated number to talk to a weight loss advisor. Dr. Leslie says a medical weight loss program “can be a good fit for anybody who wants to improve their life, is ready and willing to change.” 

Call 833-336-2727 to talk to a weight loss advisor or learn about Fairview’s 24-week Healthy Lifestyle plan

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