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The power of the group in supporting a low carb lifestyle

By Staff | Jan 17, 2020

Have you ever felt your clinic visit was rushed, especially when dealing with a chronic condition?

Clinicians and patients face many obstacles when trying to help patients manage chronic conditions, the biggest one being a limited amount of time. A condition such as obesity or Type 2 Diabetes are hormonal dysregulation and dietary and lifestyle diseases and cannot be medicated away, but the current practice model does not support the time it takes for patients to truly become educated and empowered to manage and reverse their conditions.

The average time with a doctor in a visit today is seven minutes, and often with most of that time watching the doctor type into a computer. This is not the fault of doctors, but of the way the system is built now.

Obesity and diabetes are the most prevalent and costly chronic health conditions in our state. West Virginia ranks number one in the nation, with an obesity rate of near 40 percent and diabetes prevalence in adults of greater than 15 percent. Prediabetes is now afflicting one-fourth of young adults. According to a recent Harvard University study, half of the U.S. adult population will be obese by 2030. The future projections are dismal unless we do something serious about it at a policy and education level.

Medical authorities and guidelines recommend that clinicians provide a referral for intensive multicomponent behavioral interventions to manage obesity and/or diabetes, but community resources for these services are limited, as is the free time patients have to do these programs. Enter our group visit model for teaching low carb approaches at the West Virginia University Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Health.

Despite some skepticism and discouragement from the medical community on low carbohydrate eating patterns, the most effective way to control blood sugar and reduce body fat is to reduce the carbohydrate content of your diet in a sustainable way. Some dietitians dismiss this way of eating as a “fad” and still have a belief system that a low fat diet as promoted by the government starting in the ’70s and ’80s is healthier. Although, since giving that advice, the rates of obesity and diabetes have tripled.

Now in our third year, our group visit model to support a low carb lifestyle is a monthly two-hour educational session extending over three months. The group is facilitated by myself, but the key participants are the eight-to-10 patients with similar conditions all sharing successes, challenges and support. We have had participants in our groups reduce their weight by over 100 pounds, as well as go into diabetes remission.

Not constrained by the typical seven minutes, our group-visit model offers extensive education and self-management instruction to patients in a group setting, while still providing individual evaluation. Afterwards, the participants can go over any individual issues with the clinician.

Join our group visits for education on nutritional approaches for obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Groups start the end of this month. Make 2020 a year of restoring your health. Empower yourself by working with new friends with similar challenges. All insurances accepted. Call the West Virginia University Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Health 304-596-5038 for more information.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella is a professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine and the owner of Two River Treads in Ranson. To learn more about his health efforts in West Virginia, visit www.drmarksdesk.com/. He can also be reached at cucuzzellam@wvumedicine.org.