Talking to Your Doctor about Your Weight

Making the most out of your appointment with your healthcare professional can be very helpful in making sure you know what you should be doing once you walk out of the office door. This is especially true for chronic problems like being overweight or obese and the other health conditions that are associated with excess weight such as heart disease, osteoarthritis, depression and sleep apnea. Conversations with your doctor are critical because he or she should be monitoring your health, counseling you on healthy diet and exercise habits,  providing necessary medication and suggesting additional resources which could be helpful.

It is easy to be overwhelmed with everything you have to manage.   However, there are a few things you can do to help make sure you get the information you need.  If you have not discussed your weight before,  consider discussing the following things with your doctor:

How ready are you to make changes in your life?
Are you at the stage where you are still exploring what you might need to do, but you aren’t ready to do anything yet or are you already changing your behavior and need to check in with your physician?
What are your current habits?
It might be helpful to bring a record of what you eat and what activities you do. You should be prepared to talk about what aspects of your life are a little more flexible and what needs to stay the same.
What are your goals?

All of this information can help you set reasonable goals and establish the right support team. For example, if you want to focus on your eating habits but really struggle with food choices, a dietitian can help you develop a food plan, discuss food options, and provide you with cooking techniques and skills to enjoy the food you eat. If you are concerned with increasing your physical activity, a physical therapist or trainer can help make sure you are active in a safe and enjoyable way.

It is important to remember that even a modest improvement in body weight can help significantly improve your health. Keri Peterson, MD and scientific advisor for the Calorie Control Council stressed, “You don’t need to lose a lot of weight to see the health benefits.  Studies have shown that losing just five percent of your body weight can reduce the likelihood that you develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  This is a realistic, achievable goal for most people.” Unlike a cold, your doctor is probably not going to suggest rest and provide a medication that will alleviate your symptoms in a few days. But, better conversations with your healthcare team will help guide you on this journey.


Try our healthy weight calculator to help determine a healthy weight for you.


About Keri Peterson, MD

Keri Peterson MDDr. Peterson is a medical contributor and columnist for Women’s Health and a frequent guest on NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, Fox News and CNN. Based in New York City, Dr. Peterson has been in private practice since 1999 and holds appointments at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center.   With a BA from Cornell University and a Medical Degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, she completed post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center and is board certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. Peterson is a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association, and serves as medical advisor for the Calorie Control Council.


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