UNC Family Medicine expands successful weight management program

After a successful start, the UNC Family Medicine Center’s Weight Management Program is expanding. During the last year, counselors have worked individually with more than 80 patients at the Family Medicine Center. Program results show that 60 percent of patients with at least four visits lost some weight, and 100 percent reported satisfaction with the care they received.

UNC Family Medicine expands successful weight management program click to enlarge Laurel Sisler and Larry Connor

Laurel Sisler, MSW, weight management program manager, explained, “The UNC Weight Management Program is unique in that it delivers best-practice weight management to patients in their primary care office, in collaboration with specialists in nutrition, sports medicine and behavioral health. Rather than having to go off site, our patients can get comprehensive and coordinated care in a place they trust.”

Larry Conner had tried everything to lose weight.  Finally, he was referred by his primary care provider at a routine check-up and has lost over 30 pounds. He describes improvements in his daily life and overall health. “It’s helped me at my job,” said Connor, who works as a videographer. “I used to be always out of breath, feeling ready to collapse.”

Now, he can bend over with ease and has gotten back on a bike for the first time in years. He adds, “It’s nice to have the staff [PCP, dietitian, counselor] all in one place. It makes it easy and more financially doable.”

Another patient, Vanessa Headen, was struggling with osteoarthritis and decided to try the program to take some pressure off her knees. “I’ve learned how to eat better, to watch calorie intake, especially as it involves sugar…it has made me more conscious of what I eat,” said Headen.

She now reads labels in the grocery store and her whole family participates in looking for hidden sugars. She has lost 17 pounds so far and says the program has been “helpful, an eye-opener.” She adds, “I would really recommend it.”

On multiple occasions, staff even uncovered the need for counseling about other conditions, such as eating disorders, and made referrals to bariatric surgery specialists, both of which can be overlooked in routine medical visits.

The UNC Weight Management Program is currently only accepting referrals from patients already enrolled at the UNC Family Medicine Center.  Another UNC Family Medicine administered program, the Healthy Heels Weight Loss Program (HHWLP), is free and available to UNC Health Care employees wanting access to intensive support services for weight loss.  

For more information about the FMC Weight Management Program or Healthy Heels Weight Loss Program, Contact Program Manager Laurel Sisler at 984-974-4971 or laurel@unc.edu.  If you would like to make an appointment to discuss with your Family Medicine Center provider, click here or call 984-974-0210.