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How to talk to Your Primary Care Patient about Weight Management.

We live in a world of sensitive individuals where “fat shaming” is a growing topic of concern so where do we draw the line at being politically correct? With over 69 percent of obese American adults in the U.S. we can’t afford Primary Care Physicians to be more worried about offending their patients than giving them the appropriate medical care.

PC doctors need to find ways to diagnose someone who is overweight or obese and address the potential negative health complications that may follow including diabetes, heart disease, metabolic disease and more. Proper weight control & management in advance can prevent or delay these complications and potentially save many lives.

Studies show that talking with patients about weight management helps promote behavior change but still many PC doctors fail to provide guidance to patients due to lack of office time with their patients and lack of training on how to discuss weight management with them.

Approach your PC patient about their weight control by following these tips from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIH).

  • Initiate a discussion if the patient has a BMI of over 30.
  • Initiate the discussion if the patient has a BMI between 25-30 plus two or more health problems related to weight like family history of diabetes or heart disease.
  • Initiate the discussion if the patient has a waist size over 35 inches if female and 40 inches if male even if BMI is less than 25 and two or more health problems related to weight.
  • In your discussion, you might say something like this, “Mr. Brown I see your BMI is above a healthy range and excess weight could increase your risk for certain health conditions.  Would you mind if we discuss?
  • Ask patients about their eating habits and activity levels.
  • Help patients set goals for themselves.
    • What are your goals about your weight?
    • What kind of changes would you be comfortable with?
    • What kind of help would you like from me?
  • Help patients stick with their goals by praising weight loss wins and discussing weight loss set backs.
  • if your PC patient needs further help, refer them to consult with a Weight Loss Coach, Dietitian or Bariatric Surgeon (if their BMI is ≥ 40 or ≥ 35 as well as health condition related to their weight.)

Lesley AsendorfHow to talk to Your Primary Care Patient about Weight Management.