The Weight Control Center at Columbia University is one of the most highly respected weight management programs in the region. We take a physician-centered approach to weight loss. Our practitioners are board certified endocrinologists specializing in weight loss medicine. We have a registered dietitian available who also specializes in weight control to tailor your meal plan and facilitate healthier lifestyle changes. Our patients experience weight loss, improved mobility and improvement in diseases associated with overweight.
Our work is geared toward reducing the presence or risk of weight-related diseases such as insulin resistance, diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and obstructive sleep apnea. We will work with you and your primary care physician to treat these weight-related conditions.
In recognition of the fact that many factors impact losing weight and keeping that weight off, we take an integrated approach to weight management by:
- Assisting patients in maintaining a healthy diet
- Providing guidance in increasing physical activity
- Supplying stress management and problem-solving therapy to help the patient cope with emotions that have led to weight gain in the past
- Offering meal replacement plans with OPTIFAST® protein shakes and bars
- When appropriate, prescribing medications to help promote further weight loss We incorporate cutting-edge information, such as the latest on available therapeutics, in our sessions to provide our patients with the best tools to achieve optimum health. As part of a world-renowned academic center, we have access to and conduct research protocols on weight loss.
At the Medical Weight Control Center, we realize that patients face enormous challenges. Family and friends may not understand the difficulties of losing weight, and societal views of those who are overweight make having a weight problem extremely stressful. Some of our patients struggle with genetic predisposition to weight gain.
Losing weight and transforming habits can be challenging, requiring motivation and readiness to make lifestyle adjustments. This process, which requires commitment, may feel overwhelming at first. Our goal is to empower individuals to succeed at the unique challenges of losing and controlling their weight.
During your initial visit, we will assess your health issues and establish an individualized plan for healthy eating and increased physical activity and monitoring any medications you may be taking. Our doctors also evaluate how your hormones or current medications may be hindering weight loss or contributing to weight gain. Return visits will be scheduled according to your treatment needs. In some cases, we may need to work together with you and another specialist, such as a dietician or a cognitive-behavioral therapist. For patients who decide to pursue weight loss surgery, we work closely with practitioners in the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
Description: The Weight Control Center at Columbia University Medical Center is offering an interactive, registered dietitian-led weight management group that will focus on making long-term changes for a healthier lifestyle. Each group session will involve discussions exploring the benefits, barriers, thoughts and specific action plans around changing old habits and establishing new, healthier habits.
Details: The program's focus will be on realistic goal setting and action plan formulation to allow each participant to execute their personalized plan to reach their goals. This will be a time-limited 12-week group with 5 to 7 participants. Each session will last 60 minutes and includes a private weigh-in and handouts. The small group format is intended to give everyone a voice during the session and allow for individualized attention.
- Where: Weight Control Center, Herbert Irving Pavilion, 161 Fort Washington Avenue (at the corner of W.165th Street), 5th floor, Room 512
- Cost: The cost is $50 per session, but if you pay upfront for the 12-week group, the cost is $40 per session. Contact: For more information about group meeting times and dates or to register, Heather Bainbridge, RD, CDN at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.305.0486
Judith Korner, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Medical Weight Control Center
Dr. Korner, who founded the Medical Weight Control Center at Columbia University Medical Center, is a renowned expert in the science and treatment of weight management. Dr. Korner completed her MD and fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism and her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia University. Dr. Korner is board certified in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. She is the author of multiple research papers, review articles, and textbook chapters, and heads several research studies investigating the hormonal aspects of weight control and diabetes as well as hormonal changes that occur with weight loss surgery.
Salila Kurra, M.D.
Dr. Kurra joined the Medical Weight Control Center as a staff physician after completing both her medical training and her training in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Columbia University. She is also a board certified endocrinologist with an interest in the hormonal regulation of body weight.
Tirissa Reid, M.D.
Dr. Reid is a staff physician at the Medical Weight Control Center. She completed her medical training as well as her internship/residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine-Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx, NY). She received her training in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Columbia University. She is board-certified in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism with an interest in the hormonal aspects of medical and surgical weight loss.
Heather A. Bainbridge, RD, CDN
Heather Bainbridge is a registered dietitian practicing at the Medical Weight Control Center. She specializes in counseling clients to achieve a healthier weight and improve related health conditions including pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and weight regain after weight loss surgery. Heather graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor's degree in Nutritional Sciences. She completed her dietetic internship at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
- If I'm trying to lose weight, why do I need to see an endocrinologist? What is an endocrinologist?Endocrinologists are medical doctors who have completed training in internal medicine and endocrinology. Endocrinology is a medical specialty that involves close study of the body’s metabolic processes and hormones and treatment of related diseases. The doctors of the WCC are all Board-Certified endocrinologists with a particular interest in weight regulation; they can offer both medical insight and practical advice to patients trying to lose weight.
- Will I be seeing a doctor or a dietitian?It depends on your needs. The WCC has both physicians and a dietitian on staff. The physicians will spend time going through your weight history and current eating issues and usually will provide you with an eating plan. However, if you would like more individualized attention to your diet or behavior modification then you’ll need to make a separate appointment with our registered dietitian.
- What is the difference between a nutritionist and dietitian?A practitioner who is a registered dietitian has at least a four-year bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics (or a graduate degree), has completed a six to twelve month internship in a hospital, and has passed a national registration exam from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Registered dietitians are a reliable source of nutrition information and are capable of devising meal plans and advising you on nutritional recommendations for the improvement of your health.
Nutritionists have attained varying levels of education. For example, some may have a bachelor’s or master's degree in nutrition, whereas others may have attended a weekend-long nutrition seminar. The title is used by a variety of persons, including those with only a personal interest in nutrition but little to no education in the field.
- Will the WCC doctors understand my special metabolic condition?Each of our physicians at the WCC is Board-Certified in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Our physicians are extensively trained in the evaluation and treatment of metabolic disorders.
- I am 10 pounds overweight. Is the WCC for me?The WCC physicians typically see individuals who are at least 30 pounds overweight. However, even if you do not meet these criteria, you can schedule a visit with a physician or dietitian if you are having difficulty losing weight.
- I am underweight. Is this the right practice for me?Unfortunately, no. The WCC focuses on those who need to lose weight.
- My primary care doctor says I need someone to manage my diabetes. Can the WCC doctors do that?The WCC physicians are Board-Certified specialists in the management of diabetes and overweight and obesity and will review all of your medications (including diabetes medications). Our physicians will determine if your current medications can be changed to medications that are either weight neutral or reduce weight gain. However, they tend not to directly manage their patients’ diabetes care. Usually the patient’s primary care doctor or diabetologist will be involved as well.
- Do the WCC doctors perform surgery?No. However, the WCC physicians do work with individuals to meet their weight loss goals before and after bariatric surgery. The bariatric surgery group at Columbia can be reached at 212-305-4000 or via their website.
- Do the WCC doctors see pediatric patients?No. All patients are 18 years or older. You can make an appointment with a pediatric endocrinologist by calling 212-305-6559. The pediatric bariatric surgery center can be reached at 212-305-8862 or via their website
- I already had weight loss surgery but am regaining weight. Can the WCC help me?Yes. We understand how frustrating this may be and help many individuals who regain weight after weight loss surgery. A registered dietitian is also available to assist with eating and behavioral changes.
- My doctor wants me to see an endocrinologist, but I'm not overweight. Is this the right practice for me?No. The doctors in the WCC are endocrinologists, but their focus in this practice is on weight control. If you have a general referral, please call 1-877-NYP-WELL or visit the Department of Endocrinology website
- I have a thyroid condition and I'm overweight. Can the WCC doctors treat both?Yes. Let the secretary know that you would like to be treated for both conditions and she will schedule you with Dr. Salila Kurra, who treats patients with thyroid disorders as well as weight control issues.
- I’m in a wheelchair. Can the WCC work with me to lose weight?Yes, as long as you fit the criteria of being 30 pounds or more overweight or having difficulty losing weight.
- What should I expect from an initial consultation with one of the WCC physicians?The first appointment with a WCC physician will be 45-60 minutes. It is best if you arrive fifteen minutes before your appointment is scheduled to fill out a medical and nutritional assessment form. The doctor will take a full medical history and perform a physical exam. You will discuss your eating and exercise habits. With your input and agreement, your doctor will make a treatment plan.
- Will the doctors need me to do bloodwork before my first appointment?No. The doctors will order bloodwork based on the initial consultation. However, if you have had recent bloodwork done, please bring a copy of the results to your appointment.
- Will I be given a prescription on my first visit?Possibly. Sometimes the physician is able to prescribe a medication after a physical exam and medical history. Other times the doctor will need to see bloodwork or EKG results, or to consult with one or more of your other doctors to make sure it is safe for you to take the weight loss medication. Some of our patients are not prescribed medications for weight loss.
- Will the doctor write out a meal plan for me?The physicians provide eating guidelines that focus on healthy and balanced food choices designed to reduce hunger. If you would like more personalization, you can meet with the dietitian to tailor the meal plan to your needs. We will take the time to guide you in that process.
- Do you sell meal replacements as a weight loss option?Yes, we provide Optifast meal replacements as part of our medically supervised program. If appropriate, this option will be discussed with you at your initial evaluation and will take into consideration your goals, personal weight and medical history and medical need. It is required to see one of the physicians if following a full-liquid diet. We also provide partial liquid diets, which can be followed by either one of our physicians or dietitian. Please inform our receptionist if your plan is to start a full liquid fast.
- How much weight can I expect to lose?Weight loss varies greatly from person to person and can be affected by factors such as initial weight, medical history, medications, body type, limitations on physical mobility, willingness to try and commit to different weight loss strategies and responsiveness to the different therapies.
- How often will I need to come to the WCC?It depends on your goals, lifestyle, and the treatment plan agreed upon by you and your doctor. Patients on prescription medications for weight loss may need to be seen as frequently as once a month. Patients who are planning to have weight loss surgery often need six months of attempted weight loss documented by a doctor in order for their insurance to cover the cost of surgery. Those patients who have met their weight loss or maintenance goals might come in only as problems arise.
- How do I know if my insurance plan covers my visit?It is recommended that new patients call their insurance carriers before coming to the initial consultation. Although the WCC secretary can tell you whether the doctors participate with your carrier, it is not possible for us to know to what extent each plan covers weight loss services. After your visit, our billing office will submit a claim to your insurance carrier and you are responsible for whatever costs your plan does not cover.
- Do I need a referral?That depends on your plan. If you do not know whether visits to specialists require a primary care doctor’s referral, please call your insurance company.
- The insurance I have is not one that any WCC provider accepts. What other options do I have to try to lose weight?You can still see the physicians or dietitian by what is referred to as “self pay” or paying “out-of-pocket” for the visit. The fee is paid at the time of service. Please call the office for the providers’ appointment rates.