Published: Jan. 13, 2012
Updated: Jan. 13, 2012
Since fall 2009, the Duke Diet & Fitness Center (DFC) has offered the Duke Employee Weight Loss Program, a novel approach to achieving lasting weight-loss and lifestyle changes.
The program simulates what occurs in the DFC's highly esteemed residential weight-loss program, but it is geared toward working people and their schedules.
"I have been searching the DFC Web site for years and knew that the program was world-renowned, but it seemed out of reach with regards to both the expense and the time required to participate in the program," says Njira Lugogo, MD, a Duke pulmonologist who participated in the program.
"I have seen the effects that obesity can have on the lives of many of my patients but previously felt that I could not help them much with this issue," she says. "I now share my experiences with my patients -- teaching them what I have learned about how to make small changes that lead to a healthy lifestyle."
In its first iteration, the program lasted four weeks and included five classroom sessions per week, exercise classes, and 40 meals (10 per week), which participants could eat at the center or carry out.
The 20 lectures were culled from the top lectures offered in the residential program; all components of the regular residential program were represented in these lectures, including physiological and behavioral health, diet, and exercise.
As a result, program participants were given the tools they needed to sustain their weight loss outside of the program. Participants saw an average weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds during their enrollment.
"This is the most gratifying program that I've been involved with while at Duke," says Howard Eisenson, MD, executive director of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. "It has been particularly gratifying to see colleagues take control of their own diet and exercise habits and make significant changes for themselves that empower them to be effective advocates of a healthy lifestyle for patients and for family members."
The Duke Employee Weight Loss Program will continue to be offered several times throughout the year, with 20 to 25 people participating in each cohort. These small group sizes help to build a sense of community around the program, helping people stay motivated and inspired, according to Eisenson.
This fall, the program opened up to the community at large, to help local residents with busy schedules as well as Duke employees. Based on participant feedback, the program has also been expanded to eight weeks in length.
"Making time for one's health is often not a focus within medical professionals," says Lugogo. "However, if I am not healthy then I will eventually be unable to care for others when they are sick. I now have the ability to be more focused and to continue to thrive at work -- even with my demanding schedule."