The U-M Weight Management Program

An evidence-based, results-driven approach to obesity

The U-M Weight Management Program is our comprehensive, evidence-based approach to combat obesity, a critical but manageable risk factor in the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (T2DM), cardiovascular disease, and even some types of cancer.  We employ the latest research and clinical strategies to help obese individuals (those with a BMI 32+) maintain long-term weight loss through education, counseling and motivation, and by providing the tools and strategies to make healthy lifestyle choices and sustain new, healthy habits. 

The program, initially funded through a partnership with Blue Care Network, engages the clinical component of the U-M Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC), one of 12 U.S. centers established and supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to facilitate translational, multidisciplinary medical and population research in obesity and nutrition.

Although a restricted access program, enrollment is open to adults ages 20 -70 with a BMI >32 with pre-diabetes or T2DM or a BMI of 35+. (Additional exclusion criteria apply.)  Patients agree to participate in a 100-week (two-year) intervention consisting of intensive energy restriction for the first 12 weeks to promote a 15% weight loss from baseline weight, followed by interventions to support behavioral changes and to promote physical activity.  Prior to enrollment, patients are required to review an online orientation presentation that describes some of the epidemiology and biology of obesity and weight regulation, and provides the rationale and requirements of the program.

More than 700 patients have been enrolled since launching the program in 2010. To date, the metrics have been impressive. Results published in March 2014 showed a 76% remission among all patients with T2DM, and a 100% remission in those whose onset of T2DM was within two years of enrollment. Nearly 60% of those patients were able to discontinue some or all of the medications measured, including insulins and oral medications such as the sulfonylureas (glipizide, glyburide) and thiazolidinediones (pioglitazone). 

Moreover, the results patients have achieved through our ambitious approach are better than those for other weight and lifestyle change interventions.  Read more about the excellent outcomes patients experienced here.

Tracking additional metrics through opt-in research 

Since the program’s launch, more than 700 patients have also participated in an “opt-in” (pick and choose) research component comprised of a number of questionnaires and tests that measure:

  • mood- and health-related quality of life (all of which improved with weight loss)
  • insulin, glucose and other hormones and metabolites that change with lifestyle modifications
  • energy expenditure and physical fitness 

Patients also volunteered for specialized brain scans that focused on the centers of the brain involved in motivation, reward, and decision-making relative to nutrients before and after weight loss.

Find out more about the Weight Management Program at the University of Michigan.