AYER -- In an effort to help patients struggling with weight loss, Nashoba Valley Medical Center has opened the Center for Weight Control to provide services centered around weight loss solutions, including the OPTIFAST® Program.

Different from many other weight loss solutions, OPTIFAST is a medically monitored weight management program that closely monitors and assesses a patient's progress toward better health and well-being as they lose weight. The three major components of the program are dietary therapy, increased physical activity and behavior therapy.

"The OPTIFAST Program succeeds because it treats the whole patient, focusing on more than just weight," said Salvatore Perla, president of NVMC. "Our patients work with a team of health care professionals, including physicians and our dietitian to help them achieve long-term weight loss."

Under the supervision of a physician, patients consume a low calorie diet, which utilizes a full meal replacement plan that transitions to self-prepared "everyday" meals in conjunction with comprehensive patient education and support. This type of diet is normally only used for rapid weight loss for severely obese patients with a body mass index greater than 35, and is only recommended as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

OPTIFAST has been proven in more than 80 clinical studies to help overweight and obese people lose weight. The typical OPTIFAST patient loses over 50 pounds in 18 to 24 weeks, and experiences a healthy decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Additionally, 50 percent of patients assessed five years after completing the OPTIFAST program kept enough weight off to improve their health long-term.

The Center for Weight Control is offering free information sessions for patients to learn about the benefits of OPTIFAST. Information sessions are held on the first Wednesday of each month from 12 to 1 p.m. or the third Wednesday of each month from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Ambulatory Wing Conference Room 109, which is located near the Occupational Health Center at Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer.

For information about the Center for Weight Control at Nashoba Valley Medical Center, the OPTIFAST Program or an information session, visit nashobamed.org/Weight Control.