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Health consequences of obesity

Obesity is one of the most common medical conditions in the US, affecting one third of the population. The excess body weight that comes with obesity can greatly increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, liver disease, anxiety, and depression. While obesity was once thought of as simply being caused by overeating or a lack of physical activity, it is turning out to be heavily influenced by hormones and metabolic dysfunction. Reduced calorie intake and exercise can certainly be helpful in reducing body weight, but often simply eating less or working out more isn't entirely effective at producing weight loss.

Weight Optimization Program

At AzBJSMC, through our Weight Optimization Program we offer a comprehensive, customized, sports medicine approach to weight loss that is focused on optimizing your whole body metabolism and health. Our Program takes many of the same principles of metabolism optimization that are used in high level athletes, and effectively applies these to patients with obesity. There are many factors that contribute to obesity, and we address all of these factors when coming up with your treatment program.

While weight loss can have profound positive impacts on your life, we expect our patients to be active participants in our Program. Participation in our Program is therefore an active partnership between our staff and providers at AzBJSMC and you as the patient.

We have designed our Weight Optimization Program to be comprehensive, personalized and based on extensive research. There are three main components to our program:

  1. Medical management and health monitoring: Our medical providers will supervise your weight loss treatment. This includes collecting surveys about your lifestyle, any medical symptoms related to being overweight such as joint pain or fatigue, and your psychological and emotional state. We will also order labs to help ensure you remain safe during the Program, and to determine the impact of your weight loss on your overall health. We will also monitor other factors, such as your body weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and physical activity. For our patients who see us in the office, we will also measure your body composition to track changes in body fat and lean muscle mass. After your initial visit, we typically see you again in one month, and then again usually every two to three months until your optimal weight is achieved.
  2. Medication: Your provider may recommend medication to help achieve your weight loss goals. Not every medication is appropriate for every patient, and your provider will recommend medications based on your individualized health and medical history, as well as your needs and goals. Insurance coverage for weight loss medications is variable and we cannot guarantee your insurance will cover the medication we prescribe. Your co-pay for medications will also be variable. We will work with you, your insurance, your pharmacy, and medication manufacturers to help identify which benefits you would be eligible for. If your insurance does not cover a specific medication, many medication manufacturers offer a coupon or savings program which allows you to purchase the medication at a discount.
  3. Lifestyle and exercise: Numerous research studies have shown that making changes to your lifestyle, as well as engaging in exercise, are key to effective and long-term weight loss. We partner with various online programs to help track you address changes to your lifestyle and engage in comfortable and effective exercise.

For many patients who are overweight, joint pains and osteoarthritis can make it difficult to start an exercise program right away. If you are one of these patients, our approach is to ease you in to exercise and also treat any painful joints that may be keeping you from exercising (see the sections of our website on osteoarthritis and joint pain treatments). In addition to treating your joint pain, we can have you start exercise with simple flexibility and stretching activities which help to loosen up your muscles and joints, improve your blood flow and get you ready to start low impact, comfortable exercise. You can perform these activities from the comfort of your own home, or in a gym or fitness facility.

For patients who already engage in regular exercise, we will make recommendations that might help optimize your exercise routines and help you experience further reductions in body fat from physical activity.

If you have already started a weight loss routine, and experienced some reduction in body weight but hit a wall in your progress, our comprehensive approach can often help you get back on track to losing weight.

We are excited to partner with you on this journey!

Costs of the program and insurance coverage

Insurance coverage for weight loss can be variable. If we are in-network with your insurance company, the office visits are usually covered subject to a normal office visit co-pay. Your insurance may also cover online lifestyle and wellness coaching. We do accept out of network insurance coverage if this is available. And for a limited time, if you do not have insurance or we aren't in network and you do not have out of network coverage, we are offering visits with our providers in the office or over telehealth for only $99. So if your insurance doesn't cover the visit, this is a great way to effectively start losing weight and feeling better.

Outside of office visits, we will provide you with a letter of medical necessity for other items we recommend which you may purchase related to your weight loss journey. These include scales, blood pressure cuffs, fitness programs, or gym memberships. If you have HSA or FSA plans, these letters typically allow you to charge these to your plan. If you do not have a HSA or FSA plan, these letters also typically allow you to meet IRS guidelines for claiming these as expenses on your taxes, although we recommend you consult with a tax expert on this. Your insurance may also offer gym memberships, either at no cost or reduced cost, as part of your wellness benefits.

Other Related Topics

  • American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons
  • AOSSM-American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Midwestern University