Two Houston-area women, who each have lost more than 100 pounds, have joined Twelve Oaks Medical Center to help other morbidly obese people. Twelbe Oaks Medical Center is the city's first comprehensive wellness center dedicated to helping morbidly obese people lose weight.
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Erika Vaughan started dieting when she was 11 years old. When she started college she weighed 180 pounds, when she left college she weighed 200. When she hit 315 pounds, Vaughan had had enough. She opted for a minimally invasive bariatric surgery. Vaughan then lost an average of two pounds a week for the next year and she is still working on losing weight. In addition to being healthier, the surgery changed her career. Vaughan became a certified fitness nutritionist and certified life strategies coach. She wanted to help other people.
That includes support groups, educational meetings and a fitness center where she didn't feel embarrassed to be working out. That's where Cassie Shipp help's people. Shipp went through a similar experience as Vaughan and then became a certified personal trainer.
So Vaughan and Shipp started what is now the H-3 Wellness Center. It's estimated that five percent of the U.S. population is morbidly obese, they weigh 100 pounds or more above their ideal body weight. Doctor Felix Spiegel does about 100 Adjustable Gastric Band procedures every month, that's one of several surgical options severly obese people might choose. Spiegel says the surgeries are expensive and not all insurance companies cover the procedure .
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Twelve Oaks Chief Executive Officer Kerry Teel says as those develop insurance companies may start covering more of the procedures. Both Vaughan and Shipp say surgery is only a tool in losing weight it's not a magic fix. They add that surgery is not for every one that it all depends on the individual.