Discussing Weight Loss with Your Doctor

Discussing Weight Loss with Your Doctor
22.01.2024

A doctor can offer recommendations and options to support your weight loss goals. A little pre-visit prep work on your part can lead to an easier, more productive conversation.

More than 2 in 5 adults in the United States have obesity. This extra weight leads to a higher chance of various serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery can help reduce both this weight and the chance of developing serious health conditions.

A doctor can give you recommendations for weight loss if you are struggling to manage your weight. They can offer referrals to dietitians, therapists, and support groups along with prescriptions for weight loss medications.

You’re not alone if you feel nervous about having a conversation about weight loss with a doctor. This article provides tips and information that can help.

How to prepare for your visit

Before visiting a doctor, you can prepare to have a weight loss conversation by:

  • writing down notes about your medical history
  • creating a list of your weight-related questions
  • making a food or exercise diary to share with your doctor
  • checking what weight loss-related services your insurance covers

Questions you might want to ask your doctor

Some questions you may wish to include on a list to ask your doctor include:

  • What should my goal weight be?
  • How long do you expect it to take to reach my goal weight?
  • Could an underlying health condition be affecting my weight?
  • Do any of the medications I’m currently on affect my weight?
  • Are there any supplements you feel would help me lose weight?
  • Are there any specific types of exercise you think would be good for me?
  • Is there a diet plan you would recommend for me?
  • Am I a good candidate for weight loss medications or surgery?
  • Do you have any recommendations for specialists or support programs that can help me lose weight?
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How to have a weight loss conversation with a doctor

If you wish to have a weight loss conversation with a doctor, you can mention your weight concerns in your doctor’s preexam paperwork or questionnaires. You can also bring them up during your visit when your doctor asks about any health concerns you have.

Your doctor may also bring up concerns they have about your weight and how it’s affecting your health. If this happens, you may feel nervous or defensive, but remember your doctor wants to work with you to keep you as healthy as possible.

During initial weight loss discussions, it’s important to talk with your doctor about a goal weight and a reasonable timeframe for achieving this. If you have health concerns that are driving you to lose weight, you’ll want to discuss these with your doctor as well.

Before ending the discussion, it’s a good idea to make a plan to check in on your progress with your doctor. You may wish to begin talking about what the next steps will be if you have not achieved your weight loss goals in the expected timeframes.

How a doctor can support your weight-loss journey

Your doctor can offer advice and recommendations about lifestyle changes, medications, and surgeries that may aid your weight-loss journey.

Lifestyle changes

Your doctor may recommend you make dietary changes and increase the amount of exercise you are getting. They can provide referrals to nutritionists, dietitians, and behavior therapists who can help you in achieving your weight loss goals.

If you have restricted mobility due to an injury or other health condition, your doctor may suggest working with a physical therapist to ensure that the activities you engage in are safe.

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Medications

In addition to diet and exercise, your doctor may prescribe medications to assist you in losing weight. Weight loss medications can help reduce your appetite, allow your body to absorb fewer nutrients, and increase fat burning.

Some of the medications currently approved by the FDA for obesity are:

  • orlistat (Xenical)
  • liraglutide (Saxenda)
  • phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)
  • semaglutide (Wegovy)
  • bupropion/naltrexone (Contrave)
  • phentermine
  • tirzepatide (Zepbound)

Surgery

If exercise, diet, and medications have not been effective, your doctor may decide you are a good candidate for weight loss surgery.

In the United States, the most common types of weight loss surgery are:

  • gastric sleeve
  • gastric bypass

These surgeries can change the structure of your digestive tract, limiting the amount of food you can comfortably eat. They may also alter your appetite and hunger hormones.

Takeaway Note

Having overweight or obesity increases your chance of developing many serious health conditions. It’s helpful and important to talk with a doctor about how they can help you achieve your weight-related goals.

In addition to diet and exercise recommendations, your doctor may also have medications or surgical options that can help you lose weight.

It’s normal if you feel nervous or uncomfortable talking about how much you weigh. Having a list of questions and a food or exercise journal can help you feel more prepared to discuss a weight loss plan with your doctor.

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