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Obesity is a serious disease which can cause or worsen approximately 200 other medical conditions. Apart from the impact on health, individuals suffering from obesity have a significantly worsened quality of life due to the physical limitations imposed by their weight on a day to day basis.

We at the UNC Medical Weight Program understand the medical, physical and social burden that obesity places on an individual and have created a supportive environment to provide modern treatments based on scientific study and understanding of obesity. Our comprehensive medical obesity treatment services are designed to improve patient health and quality of life by concentrating on long term sustained weight loss outcomes. We specialize in treating medically complex patients with serious medical illnesses, who benefit from management of their obesity.

Our Programs

Contrary to common belief, obesity is a very complex disease with numerous causes that go well beyond eating more and exercising less. Due to the complex etiology, multiple strategies are necessary for effective treatment and long term management. Furthermore the responses of individuals to treatments are variable. We therefore offer a range of treatments in a step wise strategy to encompass responses from different individuals with unique medical goals.

The services offered include:

A comprehensive evaluation to identify possible causes for the obesity, undiagnosed medical illnesses due to obesity, barriers to treatment. Based on the comprehensive evaluation, the medical provider determines the best treatment options, which are then discussed with patients in detail to formulate the final treatment and follow up plan.

Examples of the treatment options are:

  • Dietary modifications by working individually or in groups with a dietitian.
  • Additional lifestyle interventions directed by the medical provider or referral to specialized providers as necessary.
  • Medication adjustments to reduce exposure to weight gain causing medications.
  • Addition of medications to help bring about fat loss safely.
  • Referral for effective endoscopic procedures to help with obesity treatment.

In addition to the standard long term weight management programs to promote weight loss and maintenance, we offer a short term Optifast program utilizing balanced very low calorie meal replacements to achieve substantial fat loss in preparation for medical or surgical procedures.

We work closely with the bariatric surgery team to have their services available for patients as needed.

Provider Team


Shannon E. Aymes, MD, MPH
Obesity Medicine Physician

Dr. Aymes is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. She completed an internal medicine residency at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (Rutgers), and training in preventative medicine and clinical obesity medicine at UNC. Her clinical and research interests include weight management, population health, and health policy. Her philosophy for weight management includes addressing many of the causes of weight gain including lifestyle, stress, nutrition, exercise, sleep, and medications.

Melissa Cranford, RDN, LDNMelissa Cranford, RDN, LDN

After completing her undergraduate degree in dietetic and nutrition, Melissa started her career as an inpatient dietitian in South Florida working in critical care units and with patients post bariatric surgery. In her present role at the UNC Medical Weight Program she focuses on nutritional management of chronic diseases and obesity. She is a member of the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition and The Obesity Society. Melissa is contagiously positive, and passionate about nutrition and healthy living! Her comprehensive approach encompasses physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Melissa believes in providing sound professional advice and practical ideas to simplify nutrition.

UNC Medical Weight Program in the News

What to do if you would like to be seen in the UNC Medical Weight program

Welcome! You have taken the first step in familiarizing yourself with our program.

  • You will need to contact your primary care physician to get a referral to the program.
  • After we receive the referral from your medical provider, we will call you to set up your appointment. You will complete a brief medical questionnaire at the time of scheduling in preparation for your appointment.

If you have questions, please call the UNC Diabetes & Endocrinology Clinic at Eastowne at 984-974-2950.

Instructions for Referring Providers