Just two days after nearly 100 tornados sent a devastating storm through Wichita, the city’s mayor, Carl Brewer, carved out time to welcome a gale-force of health to KU Medical School. Dr. Wayne Andersen, co-founder of Take Shape for Life and author of Habits of Health, visited Wichita last night to talk to the local medical community about creating health, not reacting to disease. It’s all part of his Take Shape for Life initiative.
“Wichita has some ugly [health] statistics,” said event coordinator Deb Floodman, who introduced the mayor. Running on only a few hours of sleep, he took notice that Deb glanced his way way when she made the statement, and laughed when responding “I’m working on it!” He welcomed Dr. Andersen, his message, and the potential it has to help reform one of the most unhealthy, overweight cities in the country. A starting point is to educate Wichita’s doctors so that they can properly care and treat thousands of overweight and obese patients.
“Our patients are patched up, but not fixed,” said Dr. Andersen at the top of his lecture. He shared some startling statistics about health and obesity, including how obesity recently overtook smoking as the most costly health problem. He explained our biological history and how we’ve gotten ourselves in to the mess we’re in because “we’re eating way too much food,” and the wrong kinds at that. And he talked down a $68 billion diet industry that “doesn’t work,” only exacerbates a seemingly endless problem.
Watch our exclusive interview from the event, then read on to learn more about Take Shape for Life.
That’s where he and his fellow doctors come in. Doctors often feel unprepared to help coach patients through life-saving weight loss; in fact, Dr. Andersen cited “Seventy-eight percent of primary care doctors have no training on weight loss.” He called out that doctors who are themselves overweight are less likely to even broach the subject with their patients. So, in partnership with Medifast, a company where he formerly filled the role as medical director, and using his Dr. A’s Habits of Health book, Take Shape for Life was born. The program equips doctors, health coaches and participants with all the tools and information they need to not put people on a diet but help them makeover their habits for sustainable, healthy weight loss.
Isn’t the Medifast brand part of that $68 billion diet industry? Absolutely. In fact, a leader in it. He called out the contradiction and corrected that Medifast should be “used as a tool, not an end all be all.”
Medifast, a meal-replacement program with more than 70 food options, is one component of the Take Shape for Life program. Patients have weekly and bi-weekly appointments with their doctor, work with a health coach, focus on nutritious foods, employ a regular fitness regimen, and learn how to work from the inside out for a healthier mentality and lifestyle.
Take Shape for Life helps participants reach a healthy weight; learn how to sleep, eat, and be active; optimize their health for their age, and gain longevity.
Dr. Andersen boasted a five-pound per week weight loss for some patients, and showed slide after slide of real life patients who lost significant weight, sometimes hundreds of pounds, and kept it off for more than five years. One of the most inspiring parts was the number of patients who stopped most if not all of their medications, including those for diabetes. Two men in the audience, one in his 60s an one in his 70s, who’d successfully lost weight with Take Shape for Life were both real examples of those who left the pill bottles behind with all of their unwanted weight.
“We never get people healthy, we just hold disease at bay,” remarked Dr. Andersen to his colleagues. He then showed a laundry list of obesity-related diseases that are consistently “treated” with medication, but could be practically cured with weight loss. He asked the room how many of their patients ever got rid of these diseases. When he heard no response, he cited thousands of people who had with Take Shape for Life.
“What we’re doing tonight, doing together, is critical. We can’t afford not to,” said Dr. Andersen. In the last few minutes of his presentation, a turn toward sales pitch occurred. We were privy to a conversation that would launch Take Shape for Life in to potentially dozens of doctors offices across Wichita, and one that already has in offices across the nation. After reeling over the benefits of Take Shape for Life for patients, he told the doctors why they would benefit. Sure, healthy patients is icing, but in a constantly stressed profession, it could also be a lucrative new income source. One diagram showed doctors with 100 Take Shape for Life patients, ordering Medifast monthly, could earn an additional $56,500 per year.
After calling out the instability of traditional diets, the “treat the symptoms” mentality of our medical care, and the dangers of bariatric surgeries, Take Shape for Life certainly takes on the the shape of a balanced, sustainable way for people to lose real weight and transform their health.
During his presentation, it was clear Dr. Andersen is passionate about the work he’s doing. He intently listened as members of the audience took turns sharing their success stories, and he congratulated each one on their progress.
It’s time to move to what patients really want,” he said. “Not more medicine, not more surgery, they want more health.”