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10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Diet and Exercise

How to Get Weight Loss Help From Your Physician

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Updated October 25, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Diet and Exercise

Get weight loss help from your doctor.

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The first step of a new diet or exercise program should be to visit your doctor. But if you want weight loss help, you may have to start the conversation yourself. Some doctors are comfortable talking about your weight and some are not.

10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Weight Loss

Begin the conversation by explaining that you want to lose weight. Your physician may take it from there and offer suggestions for diet programs or exercise plans to follow. But if not, ask these questions to get the information you need.

  1. Should I lose weight? Your physician may give you a quick answer or he may take some time to calculate your BMI. Some physicians may also be able to measure your body composition as well.

  2. Am I healthy enough to diet? If you have been undergoing health changes, your physician may ask you to wait until your condition has stabilized to start a diet or exercise program.

  3. How much weight should I lose? The answer to this question may depend on how much weight you want to lose, but it’s possible that your physician will have a recommendation as well. With input from your doctor, you may be able to set a more reasonable goal.

  4. Does my weight affect my health? There are some conditions like type 2 diabetes or hypertension that may improve if you lose weight. Ask your doctor if a diet or exercise program can improve your medical condition.

  5. How will my health improve if I lose weight? Knowing the answer to this question may provide motivation for you when you hit a weight loss plateau or when you lack the energy to continue with your program. An improvement in your medical condition may mean that you can take less medication or see your doctor less often.

  6. How much weight do I need to lose to see a benefit? In some cases, just a small amount of weight loss can have a significant impact on your health.

  7. Do I have a medical condition that should affect the diet plan I chose? There are specific diet plans that are recommended for people who have conditions like diabetes or hypertension. Find out if there is a plan that is recommended for you.

  8. Are there any foods I should avoid? Some medications can become less effective if you eat certain foods. Grapefruit for example, is not recommended for people who are on cholesterol-lowering medications. Write down any foods you should avoid and post the list in a place where you see it every day.

  9. Am I healthy enough for vigorous physical activity? Make sure you are healthy enough for both strength and cardiovascular workouts. If your doctor provides limitations, you may want to write them down so that you remember them after you leave the office.

  10. How should I monitor my exercise intensity? Most exercise programs require that you work at different levels of intensity. But not all methods of monitoring exercise intensity work for all exercisers. Heart rate monitors, for example, won’t work for people who are on medications that keep their heart rate low. Ask your doctor to be sure.

This initial conversation with your doctor should provide you with all of the information you need to begin your weight loss program. As you continue on your program, be sure to contact your physician if you notice unusual symptoms or changes to your health that cause alarm.

If you have problems losing weight, don’t hesitate to revisit your doctor to see if there might be a medical or physical reason for your struggle. If you’ve tried to lose weight for six months or more and your weight has caused health problems, you may want to discuss the possibility of weight loss surgery.

Sources:

Bleich SN, Bennett WL, Gudzune KA, Cooper LA.. "Impact of physician BMI on obesity care and beliefs." Journal of ObesityMay 2012.

Lisa Hark, Ph.D., R.D., Darwin Deen, Jr., M.D., M.S "Taking a Nutrition History: A Practical Approach for Family Physicians." American Family PhysicianMarch 1999.

Maria L. Loureiro, Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr., Maria L. Loureiro, Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr. "Obesity, weight loss, and physician's advice." Social Science and Medicine May 2006.

Kathryn I. Pollak, Stewart C. Alexander, PhD., Cynthia J. Coffman, PhD., James A. Tulsky, MD, Pauline Lyna, MPH, Rowena J. Dolor, MD, MHS., Iguehi E. James, MPH., Rebecca J. Namenek Brouwer, MS., Justin R.E. Manusov, BA., Truls Østbye, MD, PhD. "Physician Communication Techniques and Weight Loss in Adults: Project CHAT." American Journal of Preventative MedicineOctober 2010.

John G Scott, M.D., Ph.D., Deborah Cohen, Ph.D.,Barbara DiCicco-Bloom, R.N., Ph.D., M.H.P., A.John Orzano, Ph.D., M.P.H.,Patrice Gregory, Ph.D., M.P.H., Susan A Flocke, Ph.D., Lisa Maxwell, B.S., Benjamin Crabtree, Ph.D. "Speaking of weight: how patients and primary care clinicians initiate weight loss counseling." Preventative MedicineJune 2004.

Susan A. Flocke, PhD; Aaron Clark; Katie Schlessman; Ginger Pomiecko. "Exercise, Diet, and Weight Loss Advice in the Family Medicine Outpatient Setting." Family MedicineJune 2005.

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