New training available to healthcare providers on obesity conditions

September 18, 2018

Three hundred thousand El Pasoans struggle with obesity daily. The latest science shows that obesity is a complex condition that generally requires medical treatment. Unfortunately, only a handful of healthcare providers – nationwide – know how to treat this condition. El Paso has been no exception … until now.

Through the efforts of the Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living (IHL) at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), a brand-new training program for healthcare providers aims to revolutionize obesity treatment in El Paso. Obesity education company MetaboLogix partnered with the IHL to offer the program “Practical Obesity Management,” funded by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation through its Healthy Eating Active Living initiative. A select group of healthcare providers attended the invitation-only course and received intensive instruction from a group of internationally renowned obesity experts.

By the end of the year, El Paso will have one of the highest obesity provider-to-patient ratios in the country, making it a model city for medical obesity management training. “In the early days of our strategic planning – which included feedback from the medical sector – we identified that obesity management training for healthcare providers was a critical step to improving the health of people living in the Paso del Norte region, but nothing existed nationally that would meet this need,” said Leah Whigham, Ph.D., executive director of the Institute for Healthy Living and associate professor at UTEP. “We worked with MetaboLogix to create a training program to transform the way obesity is managed. What makes our program unique is that we are training multidisciplinary teams of healthcare providers who will work collectively to treat the complexities of obesity.”

A cohort of thirty-one primary care providers participated in the first phase of training – a 2-day hands-on practical program during which they were trained by national experts. For the next 9-months, trainees will continue to participate in webinars and conference calls with the experts, providing them an opportunity to continue to hone their skills and get feedback on cases specific to their clinical practices. A second cohort of trainees will undergo the first phase of training before the end of the year and a similar follow-up. Initial feedback from the first cohort indicates that providers started putting their training into practice the very next day when they returned to their clinics. The first cohort included providers from Centro San Vicente, La Clinicia de Familia, Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe and Bienvivir.

For more information, contact Dr. Leah Whigham at or by calling 915-747-6449.

About the Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living: The Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living (IHL) at UTEP is dedicated to improving health in the Paso del Norte region. The IHL is funded by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation to provide technical support, capacity building and evaluation services to partners and grantees of the Healthy Eating Active Living initiative of the Health Foundation. For more information, go to

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