What to Look For When Considering and Choosing a Weight Loss Clinic

Weight Loss Clinics

Illnesses and health conditions related to obesity include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Over the past two decades (from 1999-2000 thru 2017-2018), the prevalence of obesity in adults in the US has increased from 30.5% to 42.4%.1 Although the health risks associated with being overweight are widely known, many of us continue to struggle with sustaining a healthy weight and may at some point consider seeking professional medical advice and assistance.

Weight loss clinics can offer a comprehensive approach to weight loss and are usually staffed with physicians, nutritionists and exercise instructors focused on examining your individual medical history, lifestyle, exercise routine and eating habits and developing a personal long-term plan to assist you in reaching your weight loss, health and fitness goals. And, your progress is medically supervised by staff at the clinic.

When to Consider A Weight Loss Clinic

When it comes to managing weight, many of us find it difficult to actually get down to our desired weight through diet and exercise on our own or, if we do achieve some success, we often find we can’t sustain the routines we used to lose this weight and end up regaining it. For people that are slightly overweight, this can be frustrating but for those that are highly overweight, this can cause serious health issues and potentially interfere with our quality of life. Under these circumstances, you may want to consider support and assistance from a weight loss clinic.

Benefits for Weight Loss Clinics

There are many diet programs that have become popular such as Paleo, Keto. South Beach and others. When these diet plans are followed, weight loss is usually the result. There are also many popular exercise programs that range from low intensity options (such as Yoga) to high intensity programs (like P90X) which when practiced as recommended will also likely result in weight loss. However, these diet plans and exercise programs do not address the unique psychological, behavioral, environmental and personal health factors associated with each individual’s unique needs. In addition to providing assistance with diet and exercise plans, weight loss clinics also offer strategies to identify and address these psychological and behavioral factors which improves the likelihood of long-term success in meeting your weight loss goals.

What to Look For When Choosing a Weight Loss Clinic

It’s a good idea to start by consulting with your primary physician to see if they have a clinic they want to recommend in your area. In most cases, they will be aware of several such facilities and because they’re already aware of your personal medical history, they may have one that they believe is best suited to your needs. If your primary physician does not have a recommendation for you, look for a clinic that has a doctor (or doctors) that hold board certifications in obesity medicine and other professional staff such as a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist. You can also search for programs offered by local universities such as those provided by the Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management at KU2 and the Wake Forest Baptist Health Weight Management Center in NC.3

If you’ve received a recommendation or you’ve identified a facility that is of interest to you, contact them to request a free consultation and tour of the facility. If there are multiple facilities in your area, you might consider scheduling visits to each of them to find the one that you believe is most suitable to your needs or even just one that you feel most comfortable with after you’ve had a chance to meet some of the staff, see how staff interacts with clients at the facility or just having had the opportunity to spend a little time inside the clinic. If the clinic you’re interested in working with is requiring a nominal fee for a consultation and tour, you should consider paying the fee as this initial visit can be very important when choosing a program that is right for you.

Questions to Ask

  • Ask for information on the types of certifications and registrations that the physicians, nutritionists and exercise instructors at the clinic hold.

  • You should also ask about the kinds of education and training that the clinic offers to clients. These programs should include information about psychological, behavioral and environmental subject matter as well as diet and exercise plans.

  • Ask the clinic if they have client referrals they can share with you or conduct your own independent research. Search for client reviews of the clinic but keep in mind that some clinics may only be posting the more positive reviews so ensure you are searching for reviews that provide comments from clients indicating both what they find acceptable and what they find disappointing or unsatisfactory.

  • Be wary of clinics that promote the use of hormones or supplements as part of their weight loss program as these are not sustainable methods to control your weight and may pose some additional health risks. Ensure your personal safety is your first priority when looking for a weight loss clinic. If there are products used, ask for information about side affects. And, you should also ensure that your primary physician is aware of and approves any products or supplements recommended by a clinic.

Additionally, if you’re hearing claims of a “guaranteed” weight loss or promises of miraculous outcomes, these are likely sales tactics which are promoting the best interest of the clinic instead of focusing on what is in the best interest of each of the individual clients. You want to avoid this type of environment and instead select a facility that recognizes your personal health, safety and goals as the priority.

How to Maintain Long-term Weight Loss

Studies have shown that after successfully completing weight loss efforts more than half of the weight we lose is regained within two years with 80% of the lost weight regained after five years.4 Long-term behavioral changes and management of weight loss requires ongoing focus and attention. A comprehensive weight loss maintenance plan for a period of at least one year following achievement of your weight loss goal should be included as part of the overall program. Maintaining long-term weight loss may also require continued clinical counseling and attention to be sustainable.

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

2University of Kansas, Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management; ttp://ebl.ku.edu/wcrpoverview

3Wake Forest Baptist Health Weight Management Center; https://www.wakehealth.edu/Locations/Clinics/w/Weight-Management-Center-Country-Club

4Maintenance of lost weight and long-term management of obesity; Kevin D. Hall, Ph.D.1 and Scott Kahan, M.D.; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764193/

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