Happy Woman

Dr. Michael Kaplan was a practicing internist when he decided several years ago to move his medical practice in a new direction. Now, he is inspiring other primary-care physicians to switch over at least part of their practices to what he sees as the crux of physical health: the medical supervision of weight loss. After becoming board certified in bariatric medicine, Kaplan began treating patients who were suffering from a roster of illnesses including heart disease and diabetes in his newly formed Long Island Center for Medical Weight Loss.

Using a physician’s approach to weight loss in his overweight patients, Kaplan began seeing major health improvements. Weight loss ought to be a doctor guided process, says Kaplan and should not be relegated to some commercial enterprise or fad diet. He explains in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal: “I’m trying to set the world straight that this is a disease, and doctors should be managing diseases. I don’t know of any diseases being managed by people with no medical background.”

Apparently the concept struck a cord with his patients who felt more confident having their weight loss program guided and monitored under the supervision of a doctor. The Long Island Center for Medical Weight Loss attracted so many patients in its first year that Kaplan soon opened two more Long Island centers.

Now, the idea is gaining momentum among primary-care physicians who see the validity of a doctor-managed weight loss program and are turning to Dr. Kaplan for training in the science of bariatric medicine. The program has caught on so rapidly that over the past six months Kaplan has shared his methods and trained doctors who have opened 60 centers in ten states.

The physician-managed program aims to drop the percentage of a person’s body fat as low as possible, while maintaining muscle mass. Using a combination of a low-calorie diet of shakes and nutrition bars, and, in some cases, prescription appetite suppressants, along with counseling in behavior modification and lifestyle changes, Kaplan sees universally positive, long-term results in his patients. The average four-week weight loss is reported at around 21 lbs.

Crash diets are often dangerous and can lead to medical problems like arrhymias or dehydration, according to Kaplan. In Time Out New York, he suggests a safer alternative to quick, short-term weight loss. Cut back to 1,000 calories for a few days by eating three small meals (two with protein). His recommendation: egg whites at breakfast, grilled shrimp or lean meat with salad for dinner and melon or apple as a midday snack.

Dr. Kaplan is successfully leading a national weight-loss revolution and involving more and more medical practitioners in treating the root problem of many physical ailments: excess weight. By adding a Center for Medical Weight Loss to their practices, physicians are putting their patients on the path to better health – it’s an idea whose time has come. Individuals can locate a center in their area by calling 1-800-MD-BE-THIN.

Dr. Kaplan’s Center for Medical Weight Loss is garnering a great deal of media attention: from the Wall Street Journal and Time Out New York to appearances on CNBC and a health radio talk show.