Wajahat Zafar Mehal, MD, PhD, director of the Yale Weight Loss Program, focuses on trying to understand why so many people who are overweight develop liver disease, among other illnesses.
“I was seeing increasing numbers of patients who unsuspectingly developed liver disease due to being overweight,” explains Dr. Mehal. “This is now the most common cause of liver disease in the United States and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Yale Medicine has the only practice I know of where patients with fatty liver can receive care for all aspects of liver disease, and have available all known effective means of weight loss.” Patients have a choice of help with nutrition, a meal replacement program, several medications, a mindfulness course and the gastric balloon.
Even a modest amount of weight loss can improve fatty liver and many other diseases, says Dr. Mehal, an associate professor of medicine (digestive diseases) at Yale School of Medicine. His most memorable patient was a 74-year-old woman with cirrhosis due to fatty liver. “She was barely able to walk. After she lost 40 pounds, her liver function improved dramatically and she is now leading a very full life,” he says.