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How to you tell someone they need to lose weight?

cathipa Posts: 2,991 Member
I work in the medical field and at least 50% of my patients are overweight if not obese. It is a crisis in the US and most of the Westernized countries. We counsel them on smoking and alcohol, but what about weight? What is your reaction to someone or a medical practitioner telling you to lose weight? Most of the responses I get are eye rolls (and I'm very delicate about how I address it), but what would cause someone to wake up and understand that its more than just aesthetics and more about health in general. The majority of the ailments I see can be directly correlated with being overweight or obese. Any thoughts? Any one who has had this happen and actually take the advice and be a success story? TIA


  • VeryKatie
    VeryKatie Posts: 5,949 Member
    edited February 2017
    I'm interested to see what people say. My only experience was kind of useless. I went to the doctor and she weighed me and said my weight was "ok". Except I knew it was a couple lbs over the normal BMI, so I just decided enough was enough and lost some weight after that. I'm not sure why she didn't say something like "Maybe it's a good idea to start watching your weight a bit" or something. Except I guess I was wearing clothes and everything too so maybe she didn't need to.

    Of course the next time she weighed me, she looked at the number excitedly and said it was "perfect" lol. So I think she may have tried to go the subtle route. But that was WAY too subtle.

    So... yeah... a kind of useless story.
  • xsmilexforxmex
    xsmilexforxmex Posts: 1,216 Member
    edited February 2017
    Paramedic here - our providers are always pretty direct about it. Sometimes it's if you keep gaining, this might get worse.. or if you don't lose, this will kill you. I don't think they bring it up unless there's a significant gain or health problem though. I think it's a great idea to bring it with the high-risk topics (eg. smoking, drinking, ect) - something like "I noticed your BMI is XX, that puts you in/close to the overweight/obese category. Studies show increased weight can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other problem. Would you like some information on losing weight?" A lot of people don't want to hear it, some won't listen at all or deny help, but there are a few who will take it to heart and do something about it.

    ETA - On a side note, if they don't want it, don't push it. They've probably heard it before and they aren't ready to accept it.
  • VintageFeline
    VintageFeline Posts: 6,771 Member
    GP just told me I was borderline for being taken off the pill (which I take to control acne, do not want to come off!) and was at high risk of further health complications due to my weight. She's a great GP and just said it matter of factly. I wasn't offended, just hearing another person say what I already knew flipped the switched.

    I think I started reducing my intake immediately after that, it was a big catalyst because I was damned if my physical health was going to go the way of my mental health! A few months later I got really serious and started tracking here and exercising.
  • cfritchley26
    cfritchley26 Posts: 47 Member
    During my last yearly exam my OB/GYN told me that I needed to lose weight. This didn't surprise me since I already knew that I really did need to focus on my health. I was not offended, upset, or anything...it was something I had already addressed within myself, so hearing it from a medical professional (especially one I trust as much as her) was just the icing on the cake...not that I can have cake right now haha.

    Bottom line, when I heard it I was ready to lose weight...it was already something that I felt myself and that I wanted to conquer. There are plenty of people who hear it before they find it on their own, and I think for them it is someone calling them fat vs. what it really is - someone in the medical field voicing their concern about their patient's health. All you can do is make them aware of it, of what could happen, and do your job in looking out for their best interest.
  • snikkins
    snikkins Posts: 1,282 Member
    Both times that I've lost weight, I did it myself; no one told me I was overweight, including my GP. I think it was because she'd known me for so long, though, that she felt uncomfortable pointing out my weight gain. I don't know if it would have made a difference or not because I knew I was overweight.

    That being said, I did roll my eyes at the MA who tried to fat shame me when I had high blood pressure at an urgent care clinic while waiting to be seen for a sinus infection. She gave me a snide, "Is your blood pressure always this high?" when it was barely over the normal range. Fun fact: Sinus infections can cause higher than normal blood pressure in some people.
  • WeepingAngel81
    WeepingAngel81 Posts: 2,232 Member
    When I go to my doctor, I expect him to be straight up with me about health issues I may be facing. I don't want him to sugar coat or be nice. I want clear cut answers that I can understand, the pretain to why I am there. I also expect him to walk me through any questions I may have. Not everyone is like that. My ex-husband saw this as the doctor being cocky or opinionated, and he stopped going to him and went somewhere else. When it comes down to it, you may hurt some feelings, you may upset some people, but you are very capable of having great bedside manner while still being direct. Better to know you did what you could do to inform, than not inform at all.
  • Bekah7482
    Bekah7482 Posts: 247 Member
    zyxst wrote: »
    From the age of 9, I was told by every doctor at every appointment to lose weight. It became annoying. It became the standard prescription: ear infection? sore throat? pneumonia? car accident? second degree burns? "lose weight". Had anyone ever made a suggestion as to how to lose weight or offered some sort of help, I might have done something. I rarely go to the doctor unless it's for an annual physical or I'm sick and need medicine. I don't have medical issues that losing weight would/did solve. I have HBP (BP average 135/90 since childhood) and lost 181#. Guess what? Still have HBP. The only reason I decided to lose weight was that I couldn't find clothes in my size. The prospect of wearing the same pair of khaki jeans for 40 years was the kicker.

    IMO, unless you can a) give reasonable proof that losing weight will solve/cure/fix/help with a person's health problems, and b) give assistance on how to lose weight (eating plan, exercise plan, etc.), don't say anything. Since you sound (read) like the type of person who will tell someone to lose weight regardless, go ahead, but don't expect many of your patients to be grateful about it.

    This!! It's always lose weight but we aren't going to give you any guidance on how to start. Even the 2 times I went in and said, "I want to lose weight but i need help," I still got no guidance. A referral to a nutritionist would have gone a long way to help.
  • domeofstars
    domeofstars Posts: 480 Member
    Great question, difficult to answer because what strikes a chord with one person may not with another. I had a doctor tell me 'it would help your health to lose a few kilos'. She did this in a nice way. I also saw a podiatrist when I was still obese who was pretty blunt who told me that my weight put me at risk of diabetes and that she saw diabetics who needed to have limbs amputated which was pretty scary!

    The most important things in life to people are their families- people they love. Focusing on that aspect 'if you don't lose weight, you are at risk of these diseases. These diseases will shorten your life, and mean you have less time with people you love. You won't be there for your children' etc.

    Asking people if they have seen or known someone (especially someone they love) suffering with a disease that is common amongst someone who is overweight or obese. Asking: do you want to go through that same suffering? Do you want your family to have to watch you suffer?
  • VintageFeline
    VintageFeline Posts: 6,771 Member
    I think if it's urgent care unrelated to weight loss then it doesn't need to be said. If it's something you're seeing your GP for I think it would somewhat worrying if they never mentioned your weight given it can have so many negative consequences. The willingness of the patient to hear it is somewhat irrelevant.

    Saying it to a 9 year old however shouldn't happen but I think we have moved on from that. At least I hope.