Medical Weight Loss: Is It for You?

Medical Weight Loss: Is It for You? Emily Eckert, Nurse Practitioner at the Vanderbilt Center for Medical Weight Loss, reviews the Center's program. The Center provides a holistic approach with support for nutrition, physical activity and other lifestyle interventions, in addition to prescription weight loss medication when appropriate.

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Stephanie Townsend: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast. I am Stephanie Townsend with Vanderbilt Occupational Health. We are here today to talk with Emily Eckert, Nurse Practitioner, at the Vanderbilt Center for Medical Weight Loss on the subject of Medical Weight Loss and is it right for you? How does someone recognize that they are overweight outside of saying, “Oh! my clothes are too small. I do not want to go up to the next size.” Can you walk me through that? Emily Eckert: I think it is different for everybody. Some people may have conversations with their doctor and be referred to our clinic for medical weight loss. Some people if you have a lot of friends or family members that are overweight, you might not think about it as much, but a lot of people that we see I think they just do not feel good and that is their main motivation to lose weight as they just want to feel better and be more active or whether it is play with their grandchildren and just really better their life. Stephanie Townsend: Are there certain characteristics that you look for when you are going through the decision-making process with someone that is exploring the options of medical weight loss? Emily Eckert: We often look at comorbidities, and I think our clinic is an extension from primary care but focusing on weight. So, we will look at other factors that may be affecting like sleep, someone has sleep apnea or stress or anxiety that can certainly contribute to emotional eating and weight gain but also cardiovascular health and diabetes, pretty much every part of the body is affected by obesity. Stephanie Townsend: Given today and how weight loss is marketed, how can you help somebody understand the emotional, the physical impact that medical weight loss can have on their well-being outside of just, “Oh! I am losing weight,” how can you help them as a nurse practitioner go through those stages? Emily Eckert: Our program really focuses on lifestyle interventions. There are so many other weight loss programs and information that patients hear out there. It is confusing, and so I think just helping patients guide through their own individualized program that is going to work long term, we are not really losing 30 pounds in 30 days type thing. We have to look at the bigger picture and how they are going to maintain weight loss because sometimes it is not just losing weight that is hard but keeping it off and getting in that yo-yo up and down pattern. Stephanie Townsend: Does the Medical Weight Loss Program here at Vanderbilt and also the Surgical Weight Loss program here in Vanderbilt, do they go hand in hand or is there a line or division between the two? Emily Eckert: We do were very closely together. We will have patients that have been in Medical Weight Loss for a period of time and weight loss has been slower than we would expect. Then, the patients think ‘well what is the next option’ and think about the surgical options, so we will refer back and forth. Also, we have patients that have had surgical weight loss and start to see a little bit of weight regain, so we can stop that cycle, we will see past surgical patients in our Medical Weight Loss Program. To qualify for surgeries, someone has to have a body mass index over 40 or one that is over 35 with comorbidities which would be sleep apnea, diabetes, or other health issues. Stephanie Townsend: If someone does not qualify or does not have a body mass over the 40 body mass index, just say they are like a 30 to 34 and they qualify for just the medical weight loss portion of it, how long of a period of time? Is this like a 6-month plan that they may enter into or is this something that is drawn out over a year or 2 years? How does that process work? How do you tailor that to someone? Emily Eckert: We see patients for the rest of their life as long as they need to. I have patients that are now normal weight, so body mass index under 25, but they want to check in to have weight maintenance, and I have said body mass index a lot that is just merely height and weight, but it is the standard that we use, so we will see them forever. Stephanie Townsend: They can always come back and have continual guidance and that extra counseling that they need to do whatever? Emily Eckert: Right. Stephanie Townsend: Well, thank you so much, Emily. Is there any additional information that you can guide our listeners to if they need additional information about Medical Weight Loss? Emily Eckert: Our website has information about how to schedule appointments and the different things that we offer here with dietician support, exercises physiologists support, and counseling with the psychologist. So, we have to approach this from all different areas. Unfortunately, there is not one cure fits all here, but you can start with our website. Stephanie Townsend: Okay. Well, thank you so much. Emily Eckert: You’re welcome. Stephanie Townsend: Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page. If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at or you can use the "Contact Us" page on our website at -- end of recording  --