[5 min read] 9 ways to support your patients in weight loss

Did you know that two thirds of Australian adults are overweight or obese? Weight, diet and exercise have a significant impact on a person’s health, with obese patients being at an increased risk for developing many medical conditions, including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, sleep apnoea, gallbladder disease, gout, and osteoarthritis.

Helping your patients manage their weight can be an important starting point in their journey towards a healthier and happier life. So, how can you best support your patients?

1. Help them work out why they want to lose weight – Ask your patients to write down the reasons why they want to lose weight. Reasons may include preventing chronic illness, keeping up with grandchildren, looking their best, or improving self-confidence.

2. Ensure they have realistic goals – Weight loss of 5-10 per cent can have a major impact on health, but some patients will expect more significant results and may feel demotivated if they don’t lose a lot of weight quickly.

3. Set smaller goals – Rather than focusing on the desired outcome (reaching a target weight), it can be helpful to work towards smaller, more achievable goals instead, such as exercising four times a week.

4. Make sure plans suits their lifestyle – Ensure that your patient’s weight loss plan is something they can stick to. Think about long-term flexibility and avoid strict diets.

5. Encourage them to keep a weight loss journal – People who track their food intake are more likely to lose weight and maintain weight loss, so encourage your patients to keep an honest food diary to hold themselves accountable.

6. Ask them to share their journey – Your patients’ friends and family will support them on their weight loss journey with positive feedback, motivation and encouragement. People who make a public commitment are also more likely to follow through with plans.

7. Find an exercise they enjoy – Don’t expect an unfit patient to go to the gym four days a week. Instead, help them find activities they enjoy which they might be able to stick to, such as walking the dog, swimming, or taking up a weekend sport.

8. Celebrate successes – To keep them motivated, let your patients know you are proud of them when they achieve goals and make positive behaviour changes.

9. Stay positive – The journey can be a difficult one for many patients. Make sure they know that setbacks are okay and that you are always there to help them.


Want to learn more about managing your patients’ nutrition concerns in general practice?

Medical Nutrition Certificate Courses in Australia

Read more recent research.

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