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A Letter From The Director Dr. William Yancy

After 8 months as Director of Duke Diet and Fitness Center, I can honestly say I have made one of my best career decisions to accept this responsibility. It has been a whirlwind from day one as I worked side by side with Dr. Ron Sha while he showed me the ins and outs of DFC operations and clinical care before he retired. I have also sought input and learned the history of DFC from former directors Howard Eisenson and Michael Hamilton. I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment since my first day. The program and facility have everything you could ask for in amenities, education and support if you happen to be focused on shedding pounds, increasing fitness and improving your health. The staff, every last one of them, have a unique combination of cutting edge health knowledge, empathic understanding and supreme dedication to our clients. And I cannot say enough about our clients. I have met more interesting people in the past 8 months than I have since my undergrad years. I have met a policewoman from NYC, an architect from Saudi Arabia, a movie producer, a kindergarten teacher who mimics different accents when teaching different subjects, a former communications coordinator who shifted careers to become a goat farmer, CEOs of companies that make chic clothing or manage major chain restaurants, a lumberjack, a thoroughbred horse breeder, an amusement park owner, a gym teacher, a DJ, a biomedical scientist from Switzerland, and the list goes on. And these people all glow about their experience at DFC. They are sponges for the health information that our staff teaches. They exercise multiple times daily, try new techniques like Pilates or TRX and have a blast doing it, without hurting. They eat delicious food that satisfies their hunger and enjoy it in a social and supportive atmosphere. And best of all, when it is finally time for them to go back home, they tell me about their success and their rock solid plan to continue their success. And they frequently also mention their plan to return to DFC to continue their weight management journey. I truly have found little more joyful in my career as a physician than hearing about how wonderful someone feels after shedding substantial weight, alleviating arthritis pain, breathing easier and coming off medications. It makes them feel young again. And me, too.


Because I am rather new to DFC, I should spend some time introducing myself. I am a proud Durham native and Duke grad. (As an aside, if you haven’t visited Durham recently, I highly recommend it. Major changes have occurred in the last 5 years. Durham is now quite a hub with new hotels and art museums, the Durham Performing Arts Center, the Durham Bulls baseball park, a destination shopping mall, and more.) I came to Duke as a general internist to train in clinical research, focusing on weight management and how weight affects health and health care use. In other words, I have been researching better strategies for weight management for over 15 years. I have collaborated with other researchers at Duke, across the country and around the world to better understand the effects of different diets (e.g., low carbohydrate, low fat, and low glycemic) on weight and metabolism. I have served on a panel for the American Diabetes Association to develop the latest nutritional recommendations for people with diabetes. I am also active in the premier research society for obesity and certified in obesity medicine.


So, joining the DFC was very natural for me and has been a blast. We are planning great new things for DFC. The program is lively with many of the terrific staff you remember plus new staff, all of whom will ensure you are getting the personal attention you need. With the additional staff, we have been able to add new fitness classes so we can offer a wide spectrum to appeal to clients who are just getting back into exercise, those who have movement difficulties, or others who are ready to ramp it up with cross fit or interval training.  We are building up telephone coaching and other strategies (potentially mobile technologies partnering with pioneering researchers at Duke) to help our clients stay on track and connected after they depart DFC. I promise that you will hear more when you arrive and in future newsletters. Whether you remain on your original weight loss path or need to get back on it, we have something to offer you. I look forward to seeing you at DFC!


In wellness,


Will Yancy, MD, MHS, FTOS

Director, Duke Diet and Fitness Center

Associate Professor of Medicine

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With more than 40-year years of experience in delivering wellness and weight loss programs, the Duke Diet and Fitness Center has established itself as one of the leading weight loss and total body health destinations for health conscious individuals seeking a residential style health program focused on natural weight loss.

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