RamaOnHealthcare January 24, 2022
Dr. Rekha Kumar discusses with RamaOnHealthcare the biology of weight loss and how Found is tackling the obesity epidemic.
RamaOnHealthcare (ROH): Welcome, Rekha, to our thought leadership series. Congratulations on joining the weight care management platform Found! What is your company’s mission and how do you plan to succeed at it?
Dr. Rekha Kumar (RK): Thanks for having me, Rama. I’ve thus far dedicated my career to diagnosing and treating patients with metabolic diseases including obesity and joining Found as their first ever Chief Medical Officer felt like an amazing opportunity to help more people on a broader scale by using a combination of strong behavioral support, technology, science-backed research, and customized medical expertise. The company has already demonstrated its potential for meaningful impact. Patients have lost a total of over 300,000 pounds through medically guided, personalized journeys that address both biological and lifestyle factors.
Patients have lost a total of over 300,000 pounds through medically guided, personalized journeys that address both biological and lifestyle factors.
ROH: As a globally recognized leader in Obesity Medicine, can you share more about what your job entails both at Found and beyond?
RK: My role will be overseeing all aspects of Found’s clinical programs. I’ll ensure that in crafting our users’ experience we leverage the best and most up-to-date research, that is both safe and highly effective. I’ll work directly with a team of our doctors, nurses, and coaches, to deliver a level of expertise and attention that was previously only available at a select few obesity clinics.
ROH: We’re all familiar with the notion that diet and exercise mean weight loss, yet so many well-intentioned people fail. What part of the equation is missing here and why?
RK: Society has been told by weight loss companies and products over and over again to just “eat less and exercise more” and then individuals are shamed for a lack of willpower when they don’t see success. The effort is there: 50% of the U.S. diets every year – and yet only 5% lose weight and even less are able to sustain that change.
Decades of research show that losing weight and keeping it off require more than diets and workouts.
…research show that losing weight and keeping it off require more than diets and workouts.
Found appealed to me because of the leadership team I was joining and the company’s commitment to delving deeply into all aspects of treating obesity- behavior change, continued health coach support and medications when indicated. It’s remarkable to see how the Found community has become a sanctuary for thousands of Americans who are all too familiar with weight loss “failure” and who are desperate for messages, products, and people that empower and celebrate them.
ROH: A lot of people aren’t aware of the biological aspect of our weight, and the options available that take biology into account. Why do you think that is?
RK: Until the nineties, we didn’t have research that proved otherwise. In 1994 scientists discovered leptin and it transformed how the medical community thinks about obesity. For the first time it was understood that in many cases obesity is caused by hormones and neurotransmitters that may not be working properly due to genetics or other factors that are beyond our control.
…many cases obesity is caused by hormones and neurotransmitters that may not be working properly….
Despite the new science of body weight regulation, a lot of the damage was already done. Quick-win wellness fads and “diet and exercise” falsehoods have conditioned us to oversimplify and invalidate the complex journey of lasting weight loss. These deeply rooted perceptions are hard to break down, though for the first time we’re beginning to see a shift in understanding.
ROH: There’s a lot of startups and incumbents already in the weight care space. How is Found unique? How does the Found program differ from programs such as Noom or Weight Watchers?
RK: Found offers the most comprehensive set of solutions within its toolkit, so that we can build truly customized programs. Weight loss is not one-size-fits-all, and so this approach is crucial to our success. Found is the only program that addresses a vast range of lifestyle factors – from sleep to stress to water intake – as well as the broadest set of safe medications and medication combinations that are proven to help weight loss.
ROH: Can you share any customer stories that highlight how the program works?
RK: A customer who comes to mind is a government contractor in Maryland who works for the National Institute of Health providing support for their clinical trials. Before the pandemic she was on her feet all day long in a lab. Now that she’s working from home, she felt glued to her computer and unable to reach her fitness goals. She started the Found program and has lost a total of 18 pounds in just a few months!
She had tried all the diet fads and used to be overwhelmed by trying to get herself into the gym each day and cutting out carbs. With the help of her personalized Found coach, she’s been able to develop behavioral changes that she makes each week. In addition to finding the appropriate medication for her unique biological imbalances, the first lifestyle change for her was hydration. She began by focusing on drinking more water for the first week. The second challenge was movement. Erica was stretching for five minutes three times a day. The key is making small, gradual changes that become a lifestyle, in combination with addressing biological imbalances.
ROH: Thanks for chatting with us today Dr. Rekha. Any parting thoughts on where you think the weight care industry more generally is headed over the course of the next year and beyond?
RK: My hope is that Found can make a lasting, tangible impact on the obesity epidemic in our country. We’re well positioned to do this, and so now we just need to execute on our mission. Beyond that, I’d love to see a narrative shift. My hope is that in the coming years, we’ll see fewer narratives that link weight loss to willpower, and more stories about lasting results from comprehensive care plans that are rooted in science.
About Dr. Rekha Kumar
Dr. Rekha Kumar recently joined Found part-time as its first Chief Medical Officer where she oversees clinical programs for the modern weight care platform. Dr. Kumar is a globally recognized leader in Obesity Medicine and a practicing endocrinologist and obesity medicine specialist in New York City. She previously served as the Medical Director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and is an Associate Editor of The Journal Obesity. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Obesity Medicine, and Endocrinology.