JumpstartMD, a medical weight-loss company with 12 Bay Area clinics – including one in Mountain View – recently published a 10-year study in the Journal of Obesity that shows its methods work better than other commercial weight-loss programs.
The study, with more than 22,000 participants, focused on JumpstartMD’s low-carbohydrate real-food diet and personalized guidance program. It revealed that after three months, more than 80% of the patients achieved 5% weight loss and more than 45% of them lost at least 10%. That’s greater weight-loss success than competing programs such as Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig have produced, according to the study.
Dr. Sean Bourke, co-founder and CEO of JumpstartMD, is behind the one-on-one, medically supervised program. As a Stanford University-trained emergency physician who regularly treated patients with cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease, Bourke realized emergency care addresses many health problems too late.
“It doesn’t take you long to realize, after seeing thousands of patients a year in the emergency department, that the primary source of death and disease in America is diet-induced diseases from what’s become highly refined, ultra-processed food,” Bourke said. “If we really want to try to address (common health risks), we ultimately need to address the root cause and not just ultimately trying to treat the downstream repercussions of these diseases.”
In 2007, Bourke and colleague Dr. Conrad Lai co-founded JumpstartMD and opened their first clinic in San Ramon. They have since served approximately 70,000 patients and will soon have 15 clinics in the Bay Area.
The program itself moves away from counting calories and focuses on real, fresh foods dense in nutrition, encouraging low-carbohydrate intake for weight loss and health maintenance. Personal physicians can adjust the program to suit a patient’s unique metabolic needs, likes and dislikes, lifestyle and motivators.
“People come to us to realize ultimately all healing is self-healing, and we help support them. We help guide them. We help create an accountability structure that enhances their motivation to create healthy lifestyle changes,” Bourke said. “Through the visit … we can help them feel supported and stay motivated to do what’s very difficult: to change behaviors.”
A sense of hope
Through the sessions, JumpstartMD staffers try to find motivation within individuals to sustain long-term behavioral changes, according to Bourke, and help patients identify obstacles standing in the way of achieving their goals.
“Most of the people who come to see us, they’re frustrated because they’ve tried every other program, and they weren’t happy with the result,” he said. “And then (with JumpstartMD) they start to see really positive results. I think that feels really good to them because … (we) see they’ve reachieved a sense of hope. And they achieve a sense of control that they … might have lost before.”
The program continues to evolve. JumpstartMD has now incorporated an educational aspect to help clients make informed decisions. It also has developed a 21-unit weight management curriculum with defined educational content to teach patients about the reasoning behind their health-related decisions and personalized program.
The commercially funded 10-year study comparing JumpstartMD with other leading weight-loss programs in the peer-reviewed Journal of Obesity is the “most comprehensive review of commercial weight loss offerings ever published,” Bourke noted.
“We want to be a scientifically based organization,” he said. “And so we wanted to take our results and … ultimately publish them internally and then compare them with other offerings out there so that we can advance the science.”
The results show that a “one-on-one medically supervised program that emphasizes real low-carbohydrate foods” produces more effective weight loss than other commercial weight-loss programs. Those who attended 75% of their weekly appointments experienced more significant results.
Similar effective weight loss was achieved by Metabolic Balance Nutrition Program, which also emphasizes a low-carbohydrate diet through personalized support and guidance. According to the study, the two programs are evidence for the replicability and success of the individualized, low-carbohydrate diet program.
Although Bourke was the primary author of the published paper, the study was conducted by third parties at Stanford’s Department of Surgery and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. More than 20,000 patients’ data was shared and interpreted by Paul Williams, Ph.D., and compared with data from other published commercial weight-loss studies since 2000. Dr. John Morton, chief of bariatric surgery at Stanford at the time, also supported the program and trial.
Bourke hopes the study will spur other scientific studies surrounding weight-loss programs and methods.
“I would love to see other studies published in the medical literature that actually (help) people make educated decisions around what the most effective programs are that are out there,” he said. “And it’s difficult. It is a very crowded, noisy marketplace, when people can make all kinds of claims about the efficacy of their program.”
Looking ahead, Bourke noted that JumpstartMD would like to pursue studies to confirm the applicability of its program and study the reversal of diabetes through the journey – specifically for people with Type 2 diabetes, but including people with prediabetes and metabolic syndrome. Diabetes is typically treated with medication and a high-carbohydrate diet, which contradicts with JumpstartMD’s encouraged low-carbohydrate lifestyle. However, Bourke said he’s seen significant improvement in diabetic and prediabetic patients through the JumpstartMD program.
“It’s exciting to think about doing diabetes reversal studies because the weight-loss outcomes that we get are so compelling and those should follow reversal of significant diseases like diabetes, prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, cholesterol abnormalities, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, all kinds of chronic diseases,” he said.
Bourke continues to work as a personal physician while serving as chief medical officer for JumpstartMD. He said observing and helping patients make progress is extremely gratifying.
“Like I was saying before, in the emergency department, you’d often be in situations where it felt like we were trying to address things too late,” he said. “(At) JumpstartMD it felt like we were seeing things that I never thought were achievable in medical school, both in terms of improving people’s health risks, but also improving their quality of life.”
JumpstartMD is located at 1503 Grant Road, Mountain View. For more information, visit jumpstartmd.com.