In September 2012 I wrote a column addressing a report that showed that obesity is particularly rampant in rural America, afflicting an estimated 40% of the population. I suggested then that it was time for healthcare providers and nontraditional sources to take up proactive measures to address the epidemic.
While I was writing, Sanford Health was doing.
In October 2012 the nation's largest nonprofit rural healthcare system launched the first of its Profile by Sanford weight loss clinics in Sioux Falls, SD. Since then clinics have opened in Minnesota and the Dakotas and this week Profile by Sanford opens its ninth "retail" weight loss center in Brookings, SD, a town of about 23,000 souls located 190 miles due east of Pierre.
Nate Malloy, COO at Profile by Sanford, says the health system hopes to have about 30 locations operational by this time next year and "100+ locations operating in most of the United States" within the next three to five years.
Profile by Sanford is not particularly innovative, and that is not a bad thing. The program uses a combination of well-established practices that other weight loss programs have been using successfully for years, such as face-to-face individualized meetings with coaches to set and keep weight loss goals, meal plans, and using wireless technology to monitor progress.