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Interview with Dr. Christopher Donner, MD, FACP, FACE

For over thirty years, Dr. Donner has helped hundreds of patients lose thousands of pounds.

Dr. Donner began the partnership between HMR Weight Management Program and Sansum Clinic in 1986 because the community needed a medically based program to help people address excess weight. The medically supervised Doctors' Weight Management program, known for its fast and safe weight loss, (at our Hitchcock location) is a behavioral weight management program that addresses high blood pressure, diabetes (and pre-diabetes), metabolic syndrome, joint pain, and other illnesses and conditions associated with weight management and obesity. The program uses HMR Weight Management’s meal replacements as the foundation of the diet.

We caught up with Dr. Donner, between his daytime Endocrinology patients and evening Weight Management patients and asked him a few questions:.


Q: With 73% of men and 70% of women in the US being overweight or obese, why is it more difficult for people to lose weight than it was 30 years ago (when the rates were around 40%)?
A: The math is frustrating but straightforward.  As a culture, we are overeating and under exercising.

Q: Why is medical supervision such an important part of this program? 
A: Many of our patients are high risk, meaning they have medical problems that require constant attention.  We are dedicated to not only weight loss but doing this in a safe and medically rigorous fashion.

Q: How can fast weight loss be healthy?
A: In the 1970s, liquid diets, because of the poor protein source, resulted in some significant medical complications including loss of life.  The stigma has actually carried forward over the decades.  Our program uses a healthy and compatible protein source that is safe and effective for rapid weight loss.  The overall goal is to lose fat not muscle protein.

Q: How could meal replacements (aka packaged food) be healthy? Wouldn’t it be better to eat my own food?  Wouldn’t someone have to eat meal replacements forever to keep weight off?
A: Meal replacements are the backbone of our program and have been shown in multiple scientific studies to be safe and effective. Most of us, on our own diets, overestimate our exercise and underestimate our caloric intake! Meal replacements solve this dilemma.

Q: You’ve been doing this a long time! What do you see are things that make people successful in losing weight on this program? 
A: Our three program foundations support success. 1.  Structure: Meal replacements and physical activity. 2.  Support: Expert staff and medical backup.  3.  Maintenance program to instill healthy eating habits to maintain weight loss and health.

Q: These patients have lost pounds but gained health, contributing to a better quality of life.  What’s the secret to keeping it off?
A: I’m glad you asked me that question again in a different way!  Maintenance cannot be over emphasized.  Losing weight on our program is relatively easy but where the rubber meets the road is maintenance of that weight loss and physical activity.  Our program focuses on this long-term goal of keeping the weight off.

Q: How do you manage your own weight?
A: Very clever, in other words, do I practice what I preach?  Bike riding and resistance training are part and parcel of my program.  Unless there are torrential rains, I take a 30-minute walk every day at lunch and consume a liquid meal replacement.

Q: What are some of your favorite things about working with patients at the DWMP?
A: First and foremost, the atmosphere at DWMP is incredibly upbeat and positive.  Patients want to be there and know that they will be successful; that makes for a pleasant experience for all involved. Secondly, my staff runs a great show.  They are incredible professionals and ‘walk their talk’. It’s a pleasure working with them all.  Thirdly, it is incredibly gratifying as a physician to watch people lose weight and gain health.  My patients and I at the program almost get giddy when we invariably lower and/or stop their blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol medications!

Dr. Donner concluded by saying that most adults in America have been on numerous and sundry diets. In a sense, there are too many food choices in the marketplace. Paradoxically, the weight loss phase of the program actually puts that choice on hold for a meal replacement weight-loss formula that we know will lead to success. Since it is so difficult to start and maintain weight loss in our culture, taking food choices off the table, as it were, and applying our successful meal replacement formula is a relief to our patients. Immediate success occurs and then we slowly and surely add back food choices after weight management and maintenance skills have been taught and reinforced.

The Doctors’ Weight Management Program staff, lead by manager Donna Gill, appreciates the years of experience and expertise that Dr. Donner brings to the program. His insights are beyond value and continue to help patients achieve some of their greatest accomplishments… loss of weight and gaining of health.

Register Today
View the Orientation schedule -  Doctors' Weight Management Program Orientation and then call (805) 563-6190 to register for a session. (No cost, no obligation.)