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Using Motivational Interviewing for Weight Loss

The global number of obese people has risen dramatically, with a projected global rate of 1.12 billion by 2030.  With obesity comes an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, and metabolic syndrome.

There is an urgent need to find and incorporate appropriate weight loss interventions that address adherence.  Motivational Interviewing is a patient-centered method of using open-ended questioning to help a patient discuss reasons for change.

The Motivational Interviewing (MI) approach involves asking questions and responding to patients’ comments. This is done in a way that validates their experiences and helps them discover reasons for making health-related behavior changes.

Examples of open-ended questions might be “How prepared are you to change your eating patterns?” or “How does your weight affect your relationships now?”

MI-type questions also allow the provider to understand the patient’s concerns and help the patient to build personal control for making behavior changes.

Sample of MI Questions for Diet, Exercising, and Weight Loss. 

According to the Yale Rudd Center, (pg 4), there are keyframes involved in motivation for change.

  • Feedback: Present feedback to the patient in a way that is respectful and has an impact. This may involve providing feedback about how unhealthy behaviors are harming the patient.
  • Responsibility: Emphasize that the patient has the responsibility and freedom to make the choice to change.  It’s completely up to them.
  • Advice: Provide clear and direct advice about the importance of making lifestyle changes and suggest different ways to accomplish this. The patient should make the ultimate choice.
  • Menu: Offer different alternatives that the patient can choose from.
  • Empathy: It is important to listen to and reflect on the patient’s statements and feelings… expressing empathy to your patients involves communication that is warm and supportive.
  • Self-efficacy: Part of your goal in motivational interviewing is to help instill optimism and confidence in your patient so that he or she can make meaningful behavior changes.

MI can provide an effective interventional technique that can help millions of people who struggle with excess weight and want to be healthier.

Cover image by Pixabay

Sources: http;//  – US National Library of Medicine (No longer visible) – Key Frames to Motivation for Change. Motivational Interviewing for Diet, Exercise, and Weight.