Programs and Disease Treatment
Overweight and obesity are characterized by an excessive amount of body fat. In the United States, the frequency of these conditions is increasing at epidemic rates. Being overweight or obese predisposes an individual to many medical problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression and some types of cancer.
Medical College of Wisconsin endocrinologists work closely with dietitians, exercise physiologists, behavioral therapists and bariatric surgeons as part of the Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Comprehensive Weight Loss Center to help patients achieve realistic weight-loss goals and improve health.
Diagnosing ObesityTo diagnose obesity, endocrinology team members use a formula based on height and weight called the body mass index (BMI). Several online BMI calculators are available (nhlbisupport.com/bmi). Higher BMIs are associated with greater risk of health problems. A normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9. Adults with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. Measuring waist circumference can also be helpful in measuring one’s risk of obesity-related diseases.
While many people have a genetic predisposition to obesity, the multidisciplinary team can identify other (secondary) causes and monitor for complications. These conditions can be identified through a careful medical history, physical exam, blood tests, saliva tests and X-rays, if needed.
Secondary causes of obesity include:
- Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
- Cushing syndrome/Cushing’s disease
- Brain trauma or brain tumors
- Medications (e.g. antipsychotics, glucocorticoids, insulin)
- Sleep disorders (e.g. sleep apnea)
- Congenital obesity syndromes (rare)
- Prader-Willi syndrome
- Bardet-Biedl syndrome
- Lipodystrophy syndromes (abnormal deposits of fat tissue)
- Congenital generalized (no fat on the body since birth)
- Familial partial (fat only in certain areas)
- Acquired generalized (diffuse loss of fat)
- Acquired partial (loss of fat only in certain areas)
- Acquired lipodystrophy in HIV-infected patients
The Weight Management Clinics, part of the Comprehensive Weight Loss Center, work with patients to develop individualized treatment plans. This includes:
- Treating secondary causes of obesity, if present
- Educating on healthy eating and prescribing an effective diet that is lifestyle appropriate
- Determining a patient’s exercise capacity and prescribing an individualized exercise program
- Referring to a behavioral psychologist if indicated (e.g., over-eating related to stress and depression)
- Prescribing FDA-approved weight-loss medication, when appropriate
- Referring to a surgeon for weight-loss surgery, when appropriate
- Diagnosing and treating complications of obesity (e.g., diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and sleep apnea)
- Referring to other Medical College of Wisconsin specialists, as needed, for obesity-related health problems (e.g., cardiologists, neurologists and sleep medicine physicians)
LocationsMultidisciplinary services for obesity are available at several locations:
Obesity ResearchMedical College of Wisconsin physicians and scientists are conducting clinical and basic science research looking at the causes, treatment and complications of obesity.
Making an AppointmentIndividuals who are overweight or obese and are motivated to lose weight may arrange an appointment at one of the weight-loss clinics through self-referral or through a referral from their primary care physician. Call 414-805-3666 or 800-272-3666.
Last Review Date: Oct. 4, 2013
Online Editor(s): Shannon Krause