Why WAIT Reached a Milestone of 10,000 Pounds Weight Loss Since its Start on September 2005
The December-graduating Why WAIT class had a lot to celebrate. The group of 14 participants lost a total of 258.5 pounds and reduced their A1Cs from an average of 7.5 percent to 6.2 percent. What’s more, the weight loss of this 44th Why WAIT class brought the total lost over the program’s nearly-10 year history to an incredible 10,000 pounds.
“We tell our patients that every pound you lose is a huge health investment for the future,” said Osama Hamdy, M.D., Director of the Why WAIT program and the Medical Director of the Obesity Clinical Program at Joslin. Dr. Hamdy is also Director of Inpatient Diabetes Management at Joslin Diabetes Center, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Over the years, we have seen people losing weight and cutting their medications down, or even stopping them all together. They achieve partial or complete remission from type 2 diabetes and live the best quality of life they can ever have.”
Why WAIT (which stands for Weight Achievement and Intensive Treatment) is a 12-week multidisciplinary program for weight control and intensive diabetes management that is offered to those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Participants come to Joslin once a week for group sessions to learn about incorporating physical activity into their day-to-day lives, improving their nutrition and modifying their behavior. As they progress through the program, they meet with Joslin physicians and educators to make adjustments to medications as needed. “We know that they cannot do it by themselves. We built a world class team to help them in every step along the way. It is amazing team work,” said Dr. Hamdy.
The outcomes of the program have been impressive:
• Average loss of waist line is 3.7 inches
• The average weight loss in the program ranges between 20 to 25 pounds
• Average weight loss after 5 years from the program is still around 6.4 percent
• 53 percent of the program participants maintained weight loss of 9 percent at 5 years
• Participants cut their medication by an average of 50 to 60 percent by the end of the program
• Over one year, Why WAIT participants saved 27 percent of the total health care cost and 44 percent of the diabetes related cost
Janice Cotter learned first-hand how life-changing the Why WAIT program could be. At 63, Janice was getting frustrated with her primary care physician’s advice for weight loss and diabetes management.
“It was just ‘oh well, eat better, exercise more,’” she said. “You know, these general guidelines that really weren’t any help.” She found Joslin’s Why WAIT program through a Google search for type 2 diabetes, “and it was everything I had been looking for as far as direction and how to deal with diabetes, how to lower my A1C,” she said. “It was just a complete package.”
When Janice started the Why WAIT program, her BMI was a little above 32. Her other numbers—cholesterol, blood pressure, liver function—were elevated above a healthy level as well. When she went for her exit interview and blood work, she was beyond thrilled.
“[My BMI] dropped to 30. My A1c was at 7.4 when I started the program and it’s now at 6.0,” she said. “All my numbers were so much better than when I started. And I was just blown away when I saw the blood work and I met with Dr. Hamdy and the numbers were just whoa!”
The thing that set Why WAIT and the Joslin approach apart from typical diabetes care was the emphasis on education, Janice said. By the end of the program, she was able to monitor her blood sugar and her food intake and understand what the numbers meant in relation to her overall health.
“It was just all the tools that they gave us to use and the ongoing education and learning how to change your lifestyle and emphasizing that it’s not just the 12 week program that you change it for, this is going to become your lifestyle from here on in,” she said. “It took a while to accept that but being in the group and getting the all the education about how diabetes works, and how it affects other parts of you, and just the in-depth knowledge that we were given,” motivated her to stay on her new path.
Janice felt a connection with doctors and educators running the program. She felt comfortable coming to them with any problems she encountered, and was confident in their ability to guide her nutrition, physical activity and medication to a healthy place. When her exercise and nutritious food choices started causing her blood glucose readings to trend too low, for example, they were able to course-correct and reduce medications immediately.
“Dr. Hamdy …he’s just one big bundle of positivity,” she said. “His whole approach to diabetes is so different from other doctors who just throw medication at it. That’s not the way Joslin does it. Joslin will use medication, but that’s not their primary medicine. Their primary medicine is exercise and nutrition, and that was the medicine I needed, not another pill or another injection.”
Janice and the other participants bonded throughout the program, helping one another through the intense 12 weeks and offering suggestions based on what was working for them personally. By the end of the three months, they were sad to part ways but plan to stay in touch through social media.
“A relationship is created between the participants and the educators. And it really is like Dr. Hamdy says, ‘we’re all a family,’” she said. Janice is looking forward to continuing her healthy lifestyle into in the future, with the knowledge that the whole Why WAIT team is only a phone call or an email away.
When asked what she would say to someone considering the Why WAIT program, Janice said, “It has made a huge difference for me, and I can see myself maintaining this because I do not want to go back to the way I was. So I would tell them that if they are concerned about their diabetes affecting their health, that they should not hesitate to go to Why WAIT. It will just turn their life around.”
Check here for information on the next Why WAIT program. Or contact Joan Beaton at or 617.309.3491. The Why WAIT program is held on 12 consecutive Wednesdays from 4:30p to 7:15p in our Boston location.
Dr. Hamdy and the Why WAIT staff have published a guidebook to the Why WAIT program, called “The Diabetes Breakthrough.”