John Cleek, M.D., back row left, with Vanderbilt Center for Medical Weight Loss staff members Mike Wigger and, front row from left, Kayla Laugham, Debbie Garner, R.N., and Caroline Crow, R.D. (photo by Steve Green)
New medical weight loss program set for VUMC
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When patients come to Vanderbilt’s new Center for Medical Weight Loss, the first thing medical director John Cleek, M.D., wants them to understand is how their bodies use energy.
Every patient will take a test to determine his or her baseline metabolic rate, and Cleek says most people are surprised by the results.
“Many people think they have a low metabolism rate that contributes to their difficulty in losing weight, but the test often shows otherwise. With the exception of a few medical conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, most find out their metabolism is perfectly normal,” Cleek said.
Dispelling media-driven misinformation and readjusting people’s expectations about weight loss is just the beginning. Patients at the Center for Medical Weight Loss, which is now open at suite 22200 at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, can take advantage of the best current evidence and techniques for weight management.
Each will meet regularly with a team of experts that may include a dietitian, a psychologist, a social worker and an exercise specialist.
“Our goal is a long-term change in behavior for patients,” Cleek said. “The evidence shows that, with the exception of weight loss surgery, there are no standardized diet plans or supplements that achieve lifelong weight control. We need to apply individualized plans of diet and exercise to get people to a spot they can live with for 20 or 30 years.”
Cleek is board certified in Internal Medicine and is a diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. He comes to Vanderbilt from Carolinas Weight Management in Charlotte, N.C., where he served for many years as medical director.
With growing support from insurers, Cleek said now is the perfect time for Vanderbilt to open a specialized clinic for medical weight management, to work in concert with Vanderbilt’s successful Center for Surgical Weight Loss.
“Surgical weight loss still has the best long-term outcomes for patients who are morbidly obese and is an important way to manage, and even reverse, serious health problems like type 2 diabetes.
“But we can serve patients at almost any weight. Two-thirds of our patients will be obese, but many are at risk and want to avoid obesity and others are pre-and-post-surgical patients who want to continue to manage their weight and habits,” Cleek said.
The new clinic will operate alongside Vanderbilt’s Center for Surgical Weight Loss, and has space for an exercise room as well as staff to handle multiple visits by patients with each member of their weight loss team.
Cleek pointed to evidence that shows the more frequently patients interact with their weight loss team, the more successful they are in achieving their goals.