Duke Health Referring Physicians


Obesity Case Reviews Help Physicians Guide Patients

Weight loss specialists share tactical advice in teaching sessions

Obese white man looking out a window

A new obesity case conference series has been launched at Duke Health as a multidisciplinary response to concerns voiced by physicians who want to learn more about tools to help patients lose weight.

William Yancy, Jr., MD, director of the Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center, and an obesity medicine specialist, is collaborating with several Duke physicians involved in obesity medicine to organize the weekly case presentations. The series launched in September. Physicians involved include Sarah Armstrong, MD, director of the Duke Pediatric Healthy Lifestyles Clinic, Andrea Coviello, MD, endocrinologist, Drew O’Donnell, MD, primary care physician, Neha Pagidipati, MD, director of the Cardiometabolic Prevention Clinic, Dana Portenier, MD, director of Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, and Eric Westman, MD, director of the Keto Medicine Clinic.

Open to the Duke medical community, Yancy says the series offers tactical advice to physicians who want to know more about weight-loss therapies. Yancy cites two specific goals:

  • Provide improved education to generalists and specialists about obesity management and treatment options available in the Duke system.
  • Help providers collaborate more effectively to develop best practices.

“Our primary goal is to emphasize how important weight management is to health,” Yancy says. “We can improve many aspects of health with weight loss, and there are many ways to help people lose weight, but doctors in general are less aware of these therapies.”

The Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center has developed several processes that are effective in helping patients reduce weight. “Patients can achieve weight loss,” Yancy says, “but we need to develop a personalized plan.”

Pagidipati sees the effects of obesity each day while working with patients at the recently created Cardiometabolic Prevention Clinic. She says cardiologists want to learn more about weight loss but are uncomfortable offering guidance about obesity because they lack training to address the condition.

“This idea was created as a response to concerns expressed by many specialist and generalist providers encouraging better collaboration to improve obesity management across the Duke Health system,” Pagidipati says. “The interest in the case presentations underscores just how starved our clinical community is for practical education on this topic.”

A successful weight management program must incorporate medical, behavioral, nutritional, exercise, as well as surgical approaches and procedures, Yancy says. Duke offers five outlets that focus on providing weight management services for patients:

  • Duke Diet and Fitness Center
  • Duke Keto Medicine Clinic
  • Duke Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery
  • Duke Pediatric Healthy Lifestyles Clinic
  • Duke Cardiometabolic Prevention Clinic

In addition, select providers from Duke Endocrinology and Duke Primary Care provide focused weight management services.