IT TAKES A VILLAGE

The Healthy Weight Clinic at MQ Health sees a team of professionals following evidence-based practice and supporting clients for the long term.

Saeid Yazdi, overweight for much of his adult life, knew he had to do something about his health when he started to feel dizzy and sleepy during the day.

“I needed to act, but I wanted a scientific approach,” explained Saeid. “I did a search and when I read about the Healthy Weight Clinic at MQ Health, I knew that this was where I wanted to go. I made an appointment and they were able to see me right away.”

After an initial assessment by Dr Veronica Preda’s endocrinology team for medical management and assessment of comorbidities – in particular diabetes for Saied – the focus was then on actually implementing diet and lifestyle changes.

He started working with Accredited Practising Dietitian Dr Juliana Chen and Exercise Physiologist Joanna Jaques. Both have worked with the Healthy Weight Clinic since its inception in 2016 and are integral to the Clinic’s approach to helping clients to tackle obesity.

“My approach is to work with my patients to make small changes that are personalised and sustainable and, importantly, don’t feel deprived,” explained Dr Chen, whose doctoral research looked at how smartphone apps could be best used in dietetic practice to support patient care. “It’s a shift in focus to what we can eat rather than what we can’t eat.

“In Saeid’s case, we focused on healthier snack options, replacing high GI foods with low GI foods where possible to control his blood sugar levels and reducing portion size. We also harness a range of technologies in our Healthy Weight Clinic, such as bioelectrical impedence to measure body composition and as a source of data on weight and waist circumference.”

Saeid also uses a diet app that enables him to log what he eats every day. Dr Chen can then see this data remotely and provide Saeid with feedback and keep him accountable. Both can see what he has achieved and what he can continue to work on.

Like Dr Chen, Ms Jaques worked with Saeid on an exercise plan to take a gradual and progressive approach towards increasing his activity volume and intensity.

“I take a whole-day approach towards physical activity, which includes looking at each person’s patterns of sedentary activity, incidental activity and structured exercise,” said Ms Jaques. “Each person is different so what I prescribe varies from client to client, and includes strategies to implement in the workplace, daily step count targets, walking programs, resistance training and family-based activities.

“We set objective goals and monitor these. In Saeid’s case, we used his FitBit monitor to track and increase his daily step count and we monitored and increased heart rate during his walks to optimise cardiorespiratory conditioning benefits. We also added strength-based exercise to achieve positive body composition changes – including gaining muscle mass in addition to reducing body fat levels, which are crucial for long-term health and weight loss maintenance.”

Within days of starting his diet and lifestyle program, Saeid’s dizziness and sleepiness had dropped dramatically, and he had more energy.

“I think the Clinic is successful because its programs are practical, scientific and not hard to follow,” he said. “I’ve made changes in my diet and lifestyle and, after 12 weeks, the changes are remarkable and I am finding it easy to stick to.

“I can actually see the difference and am so happy with my appearance and how I feel. I’m now biking, walking and the gym, all things I couldn’t do before. I’m a happier person now.

“If people in my situation are afraid to start a diet and lifestyle program because they are scared of failing, I would say: it is possible because the Clinic makes it easy to follow and they are incredibly kind and welcoming and always there to support.”

About the Healthy Weight Clinic

The HWC is a multidisciplinary weight management clinic that provides patients with access to the full spectrum of weight management approaches – from lifestyle, to medical therapy, to surgical intervention – with close support from and collaboration between surgeons, specialist doctors and allied health professionals.