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Talking to Your Doctor About Obesity

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with obesity. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your doctor

About Obesity

  • Where does my weight, medical history, and family history place me on the risk scale for obesity-related diseases?
  • What should my weight reducing efforts be?
  • Is it possible that a medical condition is responsible for my excess weight?

About Your Risk of Developing Complications

  • Are there signs of complications emerging because of my weight? Which ones are the most dangerous?
  • What else can I do besides exercising and eating right?

About Treatment Options

  • Which treatment options do you specifically recommend for me?
  • When should I be referred to a dietitian for help with my diet?
  • Do I need to see a specialist in bariatric surgery or endocrinology?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Can my spouse, care provider, parent, food preparer, or other family member join our treatment discussions? These individuals are going to have to help me change my eating habits.
  • What changes do I need to make in my diet?
  • I’m concerned that my children are overweight. What can I do?
  • What are the best exercises to help me lose weight?
  • Can you recommend an athletic trainer or fitness facility in my area?
  • Where can I get more information about weight loss?

About Your Outlook

  • Is there a counselor you recommend who is particularly good with overweight patients?
  • Can you recommend a support group?
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References:

Beers MH, Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy . 17th ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck & Co; 1999.
The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy . 17th ed. Merck & Co; 1999.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ .
Last reviewed September 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 3/18/2013