How to Choose a Weight Control Clinic
[Murray Naditch, Ph. D.]
Weight Research Institute
Too Many Choices
If you live in a city, chances are that you’ll have to choose among dozens of clinics in your area.
You’ve picked up too many extra pounds, and you know that an extra ten pounds can result in a variety of illness. The National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood tells us that excess weight can lead to a coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
You want to get serious about losing weight. You’ve tried many times, perhaps years, to try to shed those excess pounds. Nothing has worked. You may lose the weight, but before you know it comes back.
Constantly gaining and losing weight on a diet is known as a yo-yo diet. It is worse for your health than if you did nothing. Every time you gain back that weight you get another layer of fatty cholesterol in your arteries. This greatly increases your chances for a heart attack.
Attention men. Clogged arteries can lead to erectile dysfunction. If the arteries in your penis are too narrow, they won’t be able to pump in the blood you need for an erection.
So here you are, ready to choose a weight control clinic. What is the best weight control program in your area?
This is important factor, but a famous clinic that was good ten years ago may not be as effective today.
Customer Ratings on the Internet
Customer ratings are a lot more powerful than advertising. Unfortunately, many of the reviews you read on the internet are fake. There are companies that do nothing but fake reviews. You can buy a hundred positive reviews at a surprisingly low price. Anyone can get scores of positive, glowing ratings on their website about their clinic or product. All you have to do is pay for them.
Location is important. You don’t want to drive an hour every time you go to the clinic. On the other hand, close proximity tells you nothing about the quality of services.
There is no end of review sites on the internet for every possible product.
These sites are useful in discovering who the providers are, and what features they offer. Unfortunately, many of these review sites are affiliates of one or more of the products or institutions they are reviewing. The affiliate gets rave reviews, the competitors get terrible ones.
Does the staff include doctors and other qualified professionals?
This is an important criteria but it doesn’t necessarily correlate with results. How do you choose from among three clinics all of whom seem to have qualified staff?
There is only one sure way of choosing a clinic.
Do they have clinical outcomes collected and analyzed by an outside non-biased third party?
With outcome data you can answer questions like:
⦁ Is the program effective in helping people lose weight?
⦁ What’s the average weight loss?
⦁ What’s the dropout rate?”
⦁ Does the program produce health benefits that should come with weight loss, such as drop in blood pressure?
⦁ Does weight loss in the clinic result in lower rates of depression?
⦁ How satisfied are patients with the staff and services offered?
The Pure Balance Clinical Outcome Study
The Pure Balance Body and Mind Center hired Clinical Outcome Systems, LLC to do an outcome study based on their existing clinical records.
Sixty patient charts were select at random. Four patients did not complete treatment (7%). The remaining fifty-six patients were used for the analysis.
Weight lost per session is shown in Chart 1.
The average patient lost 23.5 pounds over a ten week period. That’s twelve percent of their starting body weight.
The program worked equally well regardless of gender.
The sample included a wide range of age groups. There were patients in their twenties and patients in their eighties.
As you can see in Table 1, patients lost weight regardless of their age.
Weight Lost by Age and Gender
Age Men Women
20 – 39 26.1 lbs 22.0 lbs
40 – 59 22.6 lbs 20.6 lbs
64 – 80 25.9 lbs 25.5 lbs
As you can see in Table 2, patient’s starting weight had some effect on outcomes. As would be expected, high starting weight patients lost more weight than medium or low starting weight patients.
Starting Weight by Weight Lost
Initial Weight Weight Range Weight Lost
High 313 - 209 32
Medium 199 - 185 25
Low 177 - 141 22
Weight loss in the program was accompanied by a drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Graphs showing drop in blood pressure through the program are shown in Charts 2 and 4.
Both males and female patients evidence approximately the same drop in blood pressure from the being to the end of the ten week program.
How Do These Results Compare with Commercial Weight Programs?
These results compare favorably with commercial weight loss programs.
Characteristics of an Effective Clinical Outcome System
The Pure Balance study was based on clinical records. Clinical records are not constructed for outcome measurement. The data that can be drawn from them is limited.
Continuous Data Collection
A well constructed outcome system should collect data from all the patients who pass through the clinic. The data should be collected continuously. This is the only way the clinic can have an evidence-based practice.
A continuous clinical outcome system enables the clinic to determine what is working and what isn’t, and to make changes in clinical practice to correct and problems. The continuous nature of the data collection enables the practice to test any changes made in the clinical program.
Valid and Reliable Measures
The measurement instruments used in the system should have a record of reliability and validity published in refereed clinical journals.
What Should an Outcome System Measure?
Three classes of variables should be measured:
⦁ Function Status,
⦁ Quality of Life, and
⦁ Patient Satisfaction.
Functional status variables in a weight control program should include:
⦁ Blood pressure and
An effective weight control program should include a measure of Quality of Life.
A measure of Patient Satisfaction should include the patients’ assessment of the clinical process and the staff.
Choosing a Weight Control Clinic
Outcome data makes choice of clinics a much easier and more reliable process.
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