ELIZABETHTOWN - A new program offered through Elizabethtown Community Hospital is showing plenty of potential to help patients improve their health by losing weight.
The Medical Weight Loss program has been in place at ECH since April, and is reporting very positive results.
"Obesity has become a major issue throughout United States," said Dr. Rob DeMuro, a physician at ECH who employs the program, "and we've certainly seen it here."
DeMuro noted how obesity increases the risk of both heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death among adults in the U.S., and said the cost of medical care for the complications of obesity alone can be astronomical.
"We deal with obesity daily and found that, from a medical standpoint, we had very few options," DeMuro said. "Medications are limited, so we looked for a program that was safe and comprehensive."
The program, licensed by a franchise called the Center for Medical Weight Loss, tailors a program specifically to patients based on how much weight they need to lose. Weekly or bi-weekly visits are scheduled with the physician to monitor progress.
"We were skeptical at first whether this would work, but have been very pleased with the responses so far," said DeMuro.
Patients are measured for body composition - their percentages of fat, muscle and water, and their metabolic rate - to determine the best course of treatment.
Most often, patients are placed on a low-calorie diet that utilizes supplemental shakes and nutrition bars, which are provided through the program, in combination with regular exercise. Additional treatments, such as appetite suppressants or even bariatric surgery, can be employed if needed.
"There is a modified option with more calories were people can eat regular food if need be," DeMuro said.
Elizabethtown resident Jim Ratliff was among the first patients to utilize the Medical Weight Loss program at ECH. Reaching a weight of more than 310 pounds in March, an illness caused him to be bedridden for three straight days. The experience prompted him to seek a weight loss solution.