Dr. Mowett, how did you become interested in obesity medicine?
As a family medicine & urgent care specialist, I witnessed the devastating effects of chronic medical conditions such as: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Interestingly, I was able to see a common denominator in all these diseases—most of the patients were overweight or obese.
Did you ever have any issues managing your own weight?
Looking back, I struggled with my weight since childhood. I was the heaviest out of my brothers and sisters. I lost some weight during medical school, but I started regaining weight as my stress level decreased—yes, decreased. Once I started my residency program I again lost some weight. It seems that stress had an effect on my personal weight management. Stress can be actually a major cause of weight gain for so many people (so called “emotional eaters”). I, on the other hand, lose weight under severe stress.
Tell us a little about your experience moving to the United States from Panama.
After I completed my residency program in Panama, I came to the US. And once again, I encountered another stress in my life getting adjusted to a new culture, language and food. The food was abundant and the portions enormous, and yes….I enjoyed eating it. Despite the new stressors that came with moving to the US, this time I was putting on a lot of weight. Finally, I lost the weight before completing a second residency program in family medicine. Afterward, I moved to New York and started working in a family practice office.
Describe your passion for wellness and preventative medicine.
My passion for this work was sparked while working at the family practice office in New York. I remember it as if it were yesterday…a female patient who came to see me. I will call her Mary.
At the time, I was trimmed and fit (not overweight as I normally had been in the past). Mary asked me at the end of her appointment, “How can you help me to lose weight?” I responded that I did not have enough training in obesity medicine and I would need to refer her to see a nutritionist. Mary starting crying and told me, “It is impossible for you to understand me because you are so thin!” It really shocked me; nobody has ever called me thin.
This moment became an eye opener to me. I realized that even though I was a physician or that I struggled with my weight most of my life, I was not prepared to treat obesity. That same day, I made a commitment to treat patients who were seeking obesity management. My practice grew, and I became the obesity specialist in my area.
That is great to hear! What is your focus today?
Since then, I moved to Bradenton, FL and even though I practiced urgent care medicine, I saw the need of a physician-supervised weight loss program in Manatee County.
In 2005, I opened The Aesthetic & Wellness Center, a medical facility specializing in comprehensive medical weight loss and skin care services. I strongly believe that health and beauty start from the inside out.
My lifestyle has changed for the better now. My goal is to inspire my patients and help them not just to lose weight, but to keep it off by making positive lifestyle changes in regard to health and wellness.