, Gained The Quarantine 15? Medical Weight Loss Startup Raises $12 Million To Help, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Gained The Quarantine 15? Medical Weight Loss Startup Raises $12 Million To Help

, Gained The Quarantine 15? Medical Weight Loss Startup Raises $12 Million To Help, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Suzanne Rothenberg, 58, had never had a serious weight problem. Going through menopause and grappling with her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease, Rothenberg turned to stress eating, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night to snack. Her clothing size went from a 4 to a 12 and the weight was contributing to sleep apnea and joint pain.

“I’m not an old person, but I wasn’t feeling well,” Rothenberg said. “I would look in the mirror and [think] this is not the way I want to look either. I want to feel good about myself.”

When her mother died last August, Rothenberg decided she needed help to lose weight. She had tried fad diets but even when they worked, the results didn’t last. This time, she wanted a way to lose weight that she could maintain for the rest of her life.

“Nobody can do it for you,” Rothenberg told herself. “I have to take the time out to do this for me and if I need to reach out to have somebody assist me, it’s ok.”

Rothenberg researched her options online and found Form Health, a medical weight loss company that pairs patients with Board-certified doctors and registered dieticians through telemedicine and an app. 

Last week, Form Health announced it has raised $12 million in funding, led by M13 along with SignalFire and NextView Ventures, which it will use to expand geographically.

MORE FOR YOU

Rothenberg consults a Form Health doctor remotely as needed about medications and lab results, and she meets regularly with a dietician to review what’s working or not in her diet. She can message the dietician any time with questions or for help in specific situations, such as how to overcome cravings or what to order from a restaurant menu.

Form Health patients typically have daily contact with the company and use telemedicine an average of once a week. Ongoing access costs $99 per month plus doctor visits, which are typically reimbursed by insurance like any other televisit.

Ongoing support is central to Form Health’s approach, according to Evan Richardson, the company’s founder and CEO.

“Working with somebody every day is fundamentally different than perhaps a traditional model of care in obesity medicine, where it’s brick and mortar and you come in to see your provider once every 30 or 45 or 60 days,” Richardson said. “But in between those points, you’re on the dark side of the moon.”

Evidence points to the effectiveness of regular touchpoints for long-term weight loss, which telehealth has made more feasible, especially during the pandemic.

“That frequency of touch makes a huge difference,” Richardson said. “And that’s only feasible because we do everything through a tool that’s always in their pocket.”

, Gained The Quarantine 15? Medical Weight Loss Startup Raises $12 Million To Help, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Form Health is tapping into the general telehealth trend as well as increased use of digital tools specifically for weight loss and management

It’s also part of another relevant trend: the medicalization of weight loss. 

Though the American Medical Association only recognized obesity as a disease in 2013, the field of obesity medicine has made substantial strides in the past decade. The American Board of Obesity Medicine was formed in 2011 and now has more than 5,200 certified physicians. Several weight-loss medications are on the market, including the recent approval of the first new weight-loss drug since 2014.

“[This is] a field that’s been outside of medicine for a long time,” said Dr. Florencia Halperin, chief medical officer at Form Health and a Harvard-trained endocrinologist. “[When] people want to lose weight, they buy books, they buy weird powders and pills online. [We are] bringing this into the medical space with all of that science that we have learned about.”

Form Health works mainly with people who have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30, or those with other medical conditions and a BMI of 27. According to the CDC, 42% of U.S. adults have obesity.

“The focus is to improve health,” Halperin said. “It’s not so much about the number on the scale.”

A medical approach has the potential to reduce the stigma that many people with obesity face, though a recent survey showed that 67% of people with obesity experience stigma about their weight from their own doctors.

“The world is catching up to the very recent redefinition of obesity as a medical condition,” Halperin said. “Everybody [is] coming around to this as a major health issue, not just a person’s fault.”

Richardson thinks this shift represents a pivotal moment in obesity medicine. 

“We are in this pretty unique growth phase that…I think is going to result in one of the largest reallocations of care away from diseases that are caused by obesity…towards the treatment of the medical condition that is obesity,” he said.

The medical approach is working. According to company data presented at the American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery annual meeting earlier this month, patients lost an average of just under one pound per week. Nearly half (47%) of patients lost more than 5% of their body weight during treatment, which averaged 17 weeks. Of those, one-fifth lost more than 10% of their body weight.

Rothenberg has found the treatment to be effective as well. She’s learning how to eat well and what triggers her cravings for less-healthy foods. Through a combination of medication, adjustments to her diet, and consistent exercise, she has lost 40 pounds since August. Her sleep apnea has abated and her joints feel better.  

“You just have to work at it like everything else,” Rothenberg said. “But if you want the end goal, you can do it.”

More Stories
Gas Shortages Stretch To 11 States: Large Swaths Of The Carolinas, Georgia And Virginia Go Dry