Suzanne Mackey, MD

Suzanne Mackey, MD
Founder/Medical Director, Salvéo Weight Management

Treating obesity seriously

Suzanne Mackey, MD, wants people to talk more openly about weight. More than a year and a half into the pandemic, obesity is one of the largest health concerns that no one is talking about, she says.

“When the lockdowns began, patients who had been maintaining their weight loss started struggling again, and many people found that their coping habits were having a negative effect on their health,” says Mackey, medical director and founder of Salvéo Weight Management.

“There’s no other disease where we tell a patient to take care of themselves.”

The American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease in 2013 which started to transform the concept that obesity is not just insufficient will-power and lack of discipline. Mackey and her team are still working to understand this complex disease as well as how to assist patients in managing their disease.

“It’s an area of healthcare that people still aren’t totally on board with,” says Mackey. “There are people who still believe that it’s a personal choice. But while there are personal decisions involved, it’s also a disease. There’s no other disease where we tell a patient to take care of themselves.”

That’s why she founded Salvéo Weight Management in 2014. Mackey had worked as an OB/GYN for 14 years, and during that time many of her patients asked her medical advice for weight loss.

“I had very little training on weight loss, so I didn’t have medically appropriate answers at the time,” says Mackey. “But so many people were facing the same issues, and I wanted to help.”

She began attending educational seminars through the American Society of Bariatric Physicians and eventually became board-certified in obesity medicine. During that time, she learned how to combat obesity as a disease, including how drugs and treatments, like the newly released semaglutide, can help patients manage obesity. When the pandemic hit, she found patients needed her services more than ever.

“This year, 78% of Covid-related hospital admissions had a BMI of 27 or greater,” says Mackey.

This caused a number of issues. On the one hand, obesity often came with comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure, which increased the risk of developing Covid complications. But also, if the patient needed to be put on a ventilator, the extra weight made it more difficult – and more dangerous – for doctors to administer the treatment. These health issues didn’t make headlines, she says, even though she thinks they should have.

“In hindsight, this should have been an opportunity for us to examine our habits and make a change,” says Mackey. “The messaging should have been: learn to cook healthy meals, find ways to exercise at home, pay closer attention to your health and speak with your healthcare provider about treatments and recommendations for weight loss.”

“Instead,” she continues, “many people did the reverse. People were anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, so they fell into unhealthy coping mechanisms like baking more, eating more, hosting daily Zoom cocktail hours. People in this country were gaining, on average, 2 pounds a month.”

Salvéo has grown as more people decide they don’t need be alone in their weight loss journey. The practice recently welcomed nurse practitioner Carmen Eberly, APN, a former labor and delivery nurse.

“We’re making a positive impact on people’s lives and helping the medical community see the value in this type of care,” says Mackey.


Creating Smart Goals

When you’re looking to lose weight, it’s not enough to just say, “I want to start being healthy,” says Suzanne Mackey, MD, medical director and founder of Salvéo Weight Management. That’s why she counsels her patients on creating SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timeable).

“If your goal is to exercise, that’s a nonspecific goal,” says Mackey. “You really have to put in the work to come up with the details – are you going to walk for 30 minutes 3 times a week? That’s much more doable.”

Writing down your goals helps, she says.

“Get your goals – and how you’ll achieve them – on paper and put them somewhere visible, like on your fridge,” says Mackey. “Set reminders for yourself to help keep yourself accountable.”

But don’t try to do too much too fast, she adds. Instead, focus on the little pieces – what can you do today, right now to get one step closer to achieving your goal?

“What’s important is looking at weight in small pieces,” says Mackey. “We have to focus on losing the first pound, then the next, then the next. When you look at it as a whole and say, ‘I want to lose 50 pounds,’ it’s much more difficult to figure out how to actually go about it.”


2301 East Evesham Rd., Ste 111, Voorhees Township

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