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Discussing Obesity with Your Healthcare Professional

Talking to your healthcare professional (e.g., family doctor, nurse, dietitian, etc.) is a great place to get started when taking steps towards managing obesity. However, this discussion can be challenging as many health professional do not have specific training in obesity management and often share the weight bias attitudes found in the general population. 

Be wary of health professionals who give simplistic advice (e.g., “eat less, move more”), suggest unrealistic weight-loss goals, or make disparaging or judgmental remarks about your weight. This unprofessional behaviour should not be tolerated from anyone, including health professionals. CON is also working with healthcare professionals to better manage obesity in their practice, with tools like the 5As of Obesity Management™ (Ask, Assess, Advise, Agree, Assist). You can view these tools by visiting http://www.obesitynetwork.ca/5As.

Be prepared: It is important to provide your health professional with some basic information that will help him or her get a better understanding of your overall health and daily routine, including:

  • A food diary - Try to provide a sample of what you eat within an average week. Make sure you include weekends

  • A list of all physical activities that you regularly participate in - Allowing your healthcare professional to see your baseline activity level will help you to work together to set achievable goals

  • Current medical conditions as well as family medical history - Your weight may be a direct result of a medical condition or due to your genes. With this knowledge, your healthcare professional may suggest management strategies that are suited to your needs

  • A list of all medications you are taking - There is a possibility that your current medications are leading to weight gain

Set goals: Tell your healthcare professional one short-term and one long-term lifestyle goal that you would like to achieve.

●    A short-term goal should be something simple that you can accomplish as soon as you leave your healthcare professional’s office, such as:

o    Reducing the amount of alcohol that you drink on weekends

o    Going for 30-minute walks during evenings

o    Reducing fast foods from your diet

●    A long-term goal should be something that you truly would like to achieve in the coming months, which may include:

o    Having more energy to be active with your family and friends

o    Improving your self-esteem

o    Progressing from 30-minute walks to 30-minute jogs

Ask questions: Your healthcare professional is great source of information, so take this opportunity to ask any questions about your health.

You may also want to ask your healthcare professional if there are any additional evidence-based resources that could help you with your obesity management plan, such as commercial weight-loss programs, prescription medications, over-the-counter products, support groups or other educational tools.

Advocating for your health

Once you begin to feel more comfortable speaking with your healthcare professional, you may choose to discuss more personal information, such as:

●    What you consider to be the most difficult part of managing obesity

●    Any psychological or emotional issues that you are experiencing or have dealt with in the past

●    Any fears you have about the changes you are making to your lifestyle

Additional tools to help you talk about obesity

Keep the above tips in mind when talking to your healthcare professional about weight management and obesity. For additional resources to help with this conversation, visit our resources page. 

 

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