Speaking to your doctor about weight can be daunting as it means sharing personal details about your life, eating habits and body. Obesity is not a lifestyle issue or personal choice.
The oversimplified view that all we must do is ‘Eat less, Move more’ does not address the complex underlying causes of obesity. Obesity is a complex disease influenced by a number of factors, including the environment, access to healthy and affordable food, physical activity, cultural and societal norms, education, genetics and lifestyle choices.
Before the consultation
- Remember obesity is a disease and it is treatable
- Book a visit specifically to discuss weight
- At your appointment tell your doctor you would like to discuss weight. You could start by saying, “I'm here because I am concerned about my weight and how it could be affecting my health”
- Be prepared – have a list of questions and concerns
- Consider bringing someone as support if it helps you feel comfortable
- Be able to tell your doctor about your history of weight change. Is it recent, long-term or has it fluctuated?
- Take time to think about triggers or factors that influence your weight so you can discuss this
- Think about the times you have tried to lose weight in the past
- Bring a list of any medications you are taking
- Think about why you want to lose weight
- Have realistic expectations of the consultation
What is a successful consultation for you?
- You have an open discussion with your doctor about weight
- You get information from your doctor
- You share information about your experiences, concerns and expectations in relation to weight
- Your doctor assesses any complications of obesity you may have
- You receive reassurance about your health
- You learn about treatments – safety, effectiveness
- You learn about medications that may help
- You may be referred to a specialist clinic
- You develop a personal weight management strategy
During the consultation
- Ask about your doctor's comfort discussing weight
- Explore positive or negative experiences you may have had in the past discussing weight
- Avoid self-critical, negative and stigmatizing language – your weight is not your fault
- Discuss words you are comfortable and uncomfortable with using when discussing weight
- Tell the doctor if you are comfortable having your weight checked
- Be prepared for a possible blood pressure check, physical examination and blood tests
- Ask about referral to other services and treatments
- Make a plan for follow up