Laurel Sisler, Director, Weight Management Program and Tobacco Treatment Program

In 2014, a multidisciplinary group at UNC Family Medicine formed to determine how to best serve our patients with obesity and weight-related health problems. Stemming from frustration about having nowhere to refer patients for evidence-based weight management services, this formative group surveyed patients and providers to learn how to best meet this need.

With the help of public health and social work students, patients, providers, and staff, a pilot weight management program started in September 2015. A small group of patients received individual counseling around diet and exercise, plus connection to treatments like dietitian consultation, weight management medications, and bariatric surgery when indicated. The demand for the program was large and our pilot was successful; in 2016, we expanded to the entire Family Medicine clinic with one full-time counselor dedicated to seeing patients and developing and evaluating the program. Since then, we’ve grown to a robust and busy clinic with 3-4 clinicians offering individual and group counseling at very little cost to the patient.

In September 2018, we expanded to accept referrals from the community. You no longer have to be a Family Medicine patient to enroll; everyone is welcome! Our goal is to offer effective counseling for weight management in a supportive environment with connections to higher levels of care, including medication-assisted treatment and surgery when indicated.