“Obesity is one of the greatest public health threats facing West Virginia, as our state has one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation,” Laura Davisson, M.D., associate professor and chief of obesity medicine at the West Virginia University School of Medicine said.
Celebrating its one-year anniversary, the Medical Weight Management program has gained statewide attention for its weight loss and management programs. As the non-surgical arm of WVU Medicine’s Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Center, Medical Weight Management supports patients’ weight goals through sustainable lifestyle changes focusing on food, movement, behavior changes and medical management. The program works closely with Bariatrics faculty and staff to provide all treatment options for obesity.
By growing their clinical operations to include more staff, the Center was able to create a program incorporating telemedicine and virtual appointments.
“Due to COVID-19, we needed to escalate our telemedicine program, but it worked in our favor. Weight management is most successful when we can maintain consistent and frequent contact with our patients and telemedicine has given us that opportunity,” said Dr. Davisson.
Along with telemedicine, WVU Medical Weight Management has incorporated an online store to supplement its meal replacement program and integrated a private Facebook support group where they take live, virtual walks, prepare meals and host professional dieticians to discuss healthy eating habits.
The Center’s most successful areas of growth have been their education and advocacy within the state; weight bias education and advocating for obesity medications and treatments are pillars of WVU Medical Weight Management.
“Teaching medical students about weight-bias reduces suboptimal interactions with patients that can lead to uncomfortable scenarios, keeping them from requesting care and staying in a setting where they can get treatment,” said Davisson.
Working with primary care providers, the center has been assessing the needs of patients struggling with obesity and learned how to improve obesity care and education throughout the state.
“West Virginia faces a lot of challenges with proper access to healthcare and healthy food, especially in rural areas,” said Davisson. “We are positioned to be a model for other states, dealing with similar issues, to benefit from.”
For more information about WVU Medical Weight Management, visit wvumedicine.org/weightmgmt.
For more information on the Department of Medicine, visit https://medicine.hsc.wvu.edu.