Discussing weight loss is hard—both for patients and their health care providers. Sometimes, medical providers shy away from discussing weight loss and obesity with their patients for fear they will offend. Other times patients are reluctant to open up to their physician because they feel ashamed, embarrassed or scared.
But here’s the truth: The more honest you are with your healthcare provider about your weight loss struggle, the more likely you are to succeed.
We as providers know the weight-loss struggle is 100% real, and we’re here to help. Many well-known medical sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identify obesity as a chronic disease. That means people diagnosed with obesity are no more responsible for the development of their disease than people who develop type 2 diabetes or hypertension. Most people wouldn’t think about battling those diseases on their own. The same is true with obesity.
Often times, starting the conversation about weight loss with a doctor is the hardest part of the process. But I’ve found patients get the best results when they’re totally honest about their struggles. Three solid ways to start the conversation:
- Let your doctor know you’re struggling. This will open the door to a deeper conversation. If I know a person’s biggest hurdle to weight-loss, it helps me provide the most effective treatment.
- Talk about your goals. Talk about your “ideal state.” Do you want to lose a little weight, a lot of weight or a moderate amount? Do you want to fit back into a dress you haven’t worn in years? Do you want to get a level of activity back that your weight has cost you? Knowing your motivation helps us develop a plan to get you there.
- Talk about your overall health. Does your weight cause shortness of breath? Sleep apnea? A loss of activity? Depression? High blood pressure? Diabetes? Digestion issues? The more I know about your total health picture, the better I can understand how the role weight plays in your complete well-being.
And here’s one more important takeaway—you won’t be judged. As medical providers, we’re here to help, not to offer judgement. My personal goal with my patients is to help remove the stigma around obesity and to give you the same supportive care that people living with diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes receive.
Losing weight isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. It’s individual. The more we know about your personal struggle and your goals, the better we can tailor a program to meet your weight loss needs.
About the author: Megan Zakarewicz, DO, is a primary care physician with certification in obesity medicine. She leads the Grand View Health Medical Weight Loss program. She is accepting new patients via telemedicine appointments. For more information, call the Grand View Health hotline at 215-453-4100 to schedule an appointment.