When Damon Tanton, MD, looked in the mirror back in 2015, he faced the challenge the majority of Americans face – carrying additional weight on his frame, and a future filled with possible health problems if he didn’t manage that weight. For Dr. Tanton, the personal journey toward weight loss had been a professional journey for years. As an endocrinologist and obesity medicine specialist, he had treated countless individuals for obesity, and now he was walking the walk of his patients. For Dr. Tanton, who had recently been tasked with overseeing the launch of a new weight management program at Florida Hospital, he now knew it was time. Looking in the mirror, he decided he would become the first patient in the New Day, New Weigh program.
New Day, New Weigh is more than a catch phrase at Florida Hospital – it is a comprehensive approach to fat loss, designed for those who have been unable to lose weight and/or unable to keep it off. To get the program off of the
ground, Florida Hospital knew it needed someone with extensive experience around managing the obesity epidemic— they found that person in Dr. Tanton.
Dr. Tanton, who had been drawn to endocrinology while in medical school, thought that obesity medicine was a logical subspecialty. Following graduation, he joined the Air Force, where he would eventually start the first Department of Defense obesity clinic. It was from there that he was recruited by Florida Hospital to come to Central Florida and begin a non-surgical weight management program to complement its bariatric center of excellence.
“The program at Florida Hospital, Celebration was very well received and successful, but we wanted to develop a program that was more accessible to our community. So, we began the process of establishing what would become New Day, New Weigh,” says Dr. Tanton, who now serves as Medical Director of the Florida Hospital Diabetes and Endocrine Centers and Medical Director for Clinical Practice of the Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute.
New Day, New Weigh
The New Day, New Weigh program officially started in January 2016 and was initially only open to Florida Hospital employees who were ready to commit to losing weight. The goal all along was for the program to eventually be accessible to the community at large.
“We started with the soft rollout to fine tune our procedures. Once the employees reacted positively,” explains Dr. Tanton, “we felt encouraged and confident that this multidisciplinary initiative could be scaled-up. From the beginning, Florida Hospital committed to pay for its own employees to go through the program, and it has kept that commitment as long as its employees participate fully and meet the benchmarks.”
New Day, New Weigh, a six-month experience, is now open to the community. The fee of $399 is comprehensive, as it covers 4 visits with an endocrinologist or nurse practitioner, 1-2 visits with an exercise physiologist, 3-4 visits with a registered dietitian, a visit with a psychologist, monthly body composition analyses on a research level body analyzer, and monthly group visits (the patient remains responsible for any insurance copays). “We feel that this replicates the value of the program that we operated at Florida Hospital Celebration, while maintaining affordability,” explains Dr. Tanton.
“What sets this program apart is the multi-disciplinary approach. Research shows that when we have an entire team working on weight loss, this leads to more successful outcomes,” says Dr. Tanton.
The New Day, New Weigh experience begins when patients meet with the program coordinator and exercise physiologist, to outline the six-month schedule, discuss exercise, perform the first body composition analysis, and to clarify expectations. Labs are also ordered on the first day to investigate for hormonal causes for the weight gain.
“Meeting with all of the specialists is critical,” says Dr. Tanton. “The behavior and knowledge component are addressed as patients learn what to eat and how to exercise. Likewise, the monthly weigh-ins and group visits provide accountability.”
As for using medications to speed up weight loss, Dr. Tanton explains why the program does not rely heavily on them.
“We don’t exclude the possibility of using them, but we only prescribe them if needed,” states Dr. Tanton. “Most people can lose weight on medications, but most are just bandages. We have found that, by addressing hormonal, behavioral, social, and societal contributions, we have more success at long-term weight loss.”
Dr. Tanton was the first patient on the program and the principles worked for him. He ended up losing 35 pounds, and has kept it off.
Patients on New Day, New Weigh
While many of the inaugural and current patients on the program are Florida Hospital employees, the program is open to anyone aged 18 and over. The most typical patients are female and in their 40’s and 50’s. While there are no specific criteria to participate, patients cannot be pregnant or have a diagnosed eating disorder. “We are seeing significant weight loss, but it is accomplished safely and over a period of time.” In the first year since its inception, Dr. Tanton has seen some patients lose 20 to 30 pounds over the six-month period (average weight loss has been 9.8 lbs. and average fat loss has been 7.6 lbs. over six months).
Why New Day, New Weigh?
“We think of this problem as a tree. While we are not yet able to treat the roots (DNA), we can treat the trunk rather than all the branches. By treating the central cause, which is usually insulin resistance (pre-diabetes), we can affect all of the other related medical issues (branches) simultaneously,” explains Dr. Tanton.
Unlike other weight management programs that focus on appetite, New Day, New Weigh takes a different, more clinical approach. “This is not just about attacking the appetite, as the body cannot exist on a starvation diet in perpetuity. Rather than cutting the appetite and approaching weight loss through a starvation diet, we look at weight loss from a sustainability standpoint.”
For Dr. Tanton, what sets the program apart is that its approach focuses on improving lifelong health and wellness. He is confident that with the depth and integration of the Florida Hospital system and the volume of patients, that its providers will continue to anchor this program. He points out that a patient’s weight loss journey often begins with their primary care physician, who is often the first healthcare provider to identify insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) and address the related obesity.
“We cannot discount the prevalence of pre-diabetes,” explains Dr. Tanton. “Patients who are seen in a primary care office with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and central fat need to aggressively treat the central cause (insulin resistance). We have 90 million Americans with pre-diabetes.” Tanton goes on to explain. “As part of New Day, New Weigh we address the possibility of insulin resistance early. If we do this, not only can we help those patients with insulin resistance lose weight, but can also prevent, or at least postpone, progression to diabetes.”
For Dr. Tanton, programs like New Day, New Weigh are integral in moving forward in the changing healthcare environment. “We cannot address population health without addressing diabetes and obesity,” says Dr. Tanton.
New Day, New Weigh is currently based at Florida Hospital Orlando, just north of downtown on Orange Avenue. More than 120 patients have benefitted from the program in its first year, and there are plans in the future to expand the program to other Florida Hospital campuses.
“With our central location, this program is easily accessible and, with the reasonable price tag of $399, we are optimistic that it will continue to grow,” says Dr. Tanton.
There are many success stories, Dr. Tanton’s included.
“We are having significant fat loss, as an average. We have had patients that have lost 20 or 30 pounds and, more importantly, are doing so in a healthy, sustainable manner,” says Dr. Tanton.
Maintaining the weight loss is one of the principal challenges in this effort. As such, a patient has the option once they complete New Day, New Weigh of signing up for a second time or moving into a maintenance program, called Weigh to Go (for $199).
“In the maintenance program, the patient doesn’t have the constant surveillance, but she still has accountability and access to our exercise physiologist and registered dietitian,” says Dr. Tanton. “This is for patients who still need guidance but not necessarily the same level of intensity.”
For Dr. Tanton, who has dedicated his career to the treatment of hormones and the obesity epidemic, New Day, New Weigh is a unique, affordable, and comprehensive program providing Central Floridians a safe and effective approach to losing weight and maintaining fat loss. Dr. Tanton has experienced, firsthand, the tremendous benefits of working with a team of experts to personalize the approach to his personal health and wellness. He is hopeful that New Day, New Weigh will provide the same results for many others in 2017.
By Katie Dagenais