Emory Report
February 9, 2009
Volume 61, Number 19

Bariatrics Center offers employee discounts
The Emory Bariatric Center is dedicated to improving the health of overweight and obese patients with a collaborative and compassionate approach to weight loss, offering excellence in treatments ranging from developing a healthy weight loss plan to performing bariatric surgery.

For more information on the center and its programs, call the Emory HealthConnection at 404-778-7777 or visit www.emoryhealthcare.org

Don’t forget to ask about the employee discount for the Comprehensive Weight Management Program.



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February 9
, 2009
Get healthier, manage weight at Bariatrics Centerx

By Betsy Frame

April McMahan, director of conferences at the Rollins School of Public Health, will soon celebrate an anniversary, and she is enthusiastic about sharing this special time with Emory. Last February, McMahan, who has Type II diabetes, made a decision to change her life by enrolling in a weight management program offered at the Emory Bariatric Center. The 10-month program not only changed when and what she eats, but how she thinks about eating.

After hearing about the weight-loss success story of a colleague, who received gastric bypass surgery at the center, McMahan decided to see her primary care physician to discuss her options. Her doctor referred her to the center to take part in the non-surgical Comprehensive Weight Management Program using OPTIFAST, where she was able to take advantage of the employee discount. She hoped the center would help her lose weight and teach her how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“I never had a problem losing weight, I always had a problem maintaining it,” says McMahan.

Before starting the 10-month Comprehensive Weight Management Program, she went in for an initial evaluation to make sure she was medically sound. The center’s bariatrician performed a physical exam which included blood and urine testing, and an EKG. She was medically monitored throughout the program, with regular blood tests.

After being approved, she was asked to reduce her calorie intake to 1,200 per day during the first week. After the first week, she was put on an 800-calorie, 14-week program using OPTIFAST, a very low calorie, nutritionally balanced meal replacement shake or bar.

“The OPTIFAST program took out the decisions and temptations I had about food,” says McMahan.

Drinking the shakes five times a day, she was able to lose an average of three pounds a week. Sticking to the weight loss plan and walking regularly, she found it impossible not to lose weight. Every week, she would attend group sessions with a psychologist and dietitian to increase knowledge, learn ways to incorporate lifestyle changes to achieve goals, and monitor progress. The other patients at the meetings would encourage each other and it made her feel she was not alone in the process.

At the 15-week mark, McMahan was slowly re-introduced to food in a carefully regulated manner, and slowly removed from the liquid diet and provided a diet plan for the final phase. At the 21-week mark, she reached the maintenance phase of the program. The maintenance phase lasts a lifetime and patients are able to continue with weekly meetings at the center. The most successful patients attend for a minimum of six months, as recommended by the program.

After losing 50 pounds on the OPTIFAST program, McMahan was determined to keep the pounds off. “Finding balance with food after the program was difficult for me,” she says. “Exercising regularly and eating small meals throughout the day has helped me maintain my weight. The staff gave me the confidence that I would lose weight, and I ultimately did.”