New Program At Tulsa Hospital Seeks To Cut State's Obesity Rate

Tuesday, February 15th 2011, 9:33 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma is on pace to lead the nation in obesity. The state's current obesity rate is slightly higher than the national average and watchdogs say it's on pace to be above 56 percent by 2018.

But a Tulsa hospital is working to turn that statistic around.

Sarah Coulander loves her children. But she recently noticed her weight was getting in the way of her having fun with the kids. At her highest, she weighed 245 pounds.

"It's not fun, that's for sure," she said. "You don't feel good about yourself, you don't have the energy that you want to have."

She's decided to do something about it and she's taking part in the St. John Weight Management Institute.

"It's for those patients that have failed weight loss by other means," said Dr. Michael Arroyo.

Dr. Michael Arroyo is a bariatric surgeon and one of several physicians leading the institute. He calls the state's obesity rate scary; right now it's at 35 percent, one percentage point above the national average. He says something desperately needs to be done because obesity can lead to a host of other problems.

"Diabetes, heart disease in the form of attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol," Dr. Arroyo said.

The St. John Weight Management Institute is designed for people who have a body mass index of 35 or greater. It includes both surgical and non-surgical options.

"It's nice that's there's actually a team in place that helps you," Sarah Coulander said.

Coulander is going for the non-surgical option. She says the weight management institute has taught her about nutrition and exercise and given her a better grip of her life.

"A lot of it is just keeping up with the kids and being healthy," she said. "That's my main goal is being healthy, I don't have to be a size 4 or 2 or anything like that. I just want to look good and feel good and have my energy back."

St. John will host its first free seminar for the weight management institute Thursday evening.