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New medical weight loss program set for VUMC campus

Feb. 5, 2015, 8:42 AM

At the new Vanderbilt Center for Medical Weight Loss, John Cleek, M.D., Emily Eckert, MSN, FNP, and colleagues provide patients with an individualized weight loss program. (photo by Anne Rayner)

For people with diabetes, watching their waistline is an important way to help control their blood glucose and lower the risk for complications from the illness.

In a bid to provide those patients and others better access to medical resources that help them lose weight and keep it off, the Vanderbilt Center for Medical Weight Loss will open next month at the Eskind Diabetes Clinic on the main VUMC campus.

The center provides patients with an individualized weight loss program, combining medical treatment with nutrition, exercise and psychological support.

John Cleek, M.D., professor of Medicine and the weight loss center’s medical director, said bringing the new center to the Eskind Diabetes Clinic will make it much more convenient for patients with diabetes to also seek weight-loss care.

“Most of us are more likely to do something if it’s easy to access,” Cleek said.

The medical weight loss center launched in 2012 at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks has since cared for thousands of patients battling obesity. The center works in concert with Vanderbilt’s Center for Surgical Weight Loss.

“This is a very important part of our strategic plans to address obesity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center,” said Ronald Clements, M.D., professor of Surgery and director of the Center for Surgical Weight Loss. “This new program will facilitate access for the growing number of patients in our region who are struggling with obesity and its related conditions.”

For patients seeking to lose weight without surgery or for whom surgery is not an option, the team of care providers at the medical weight loss center starts by conducting several evaluations to help build a picture for how best to treat the patient’s obesity.

Those tests include determining the individual’s metabolic rate as well as testing insulin resistance and evaluating whether a patient has sleep apnea.

“Everybody is different,” Cleek said. “That’s why an individualized approach is more likely to help patients achieve results.”

Patients seeing care providers at the new clinic will also have access to the weight loss center’s team of experts housed at One Hundred Oaks, including a dietitian, psychologist, social worker and exercise specialist.

“This unique program will provide personalized care to our patients at the main campus location,” said Shubhada Jagasia, M.D., professor of Medicine and medical director of the Eskind Diabetes Clinic.

Plans for expansion of the weight loss center beyond the new program at the VUMC main campus are already underway. The department has plans to increase the number of physicians specializing in weight loss and open a clinic this year at the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Clinic in Williamson County.

“Our state has an extremely high incidence of obesity, making clinical endeavors like this not only timely, but crucial. Managing obesity will help improve several medical conditions stemming from it,” Jagasia said. “We are delighted to offer this new service in the Eskind Diabetes Clinic.”

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