11 Weight Loss Questions to Ask Your Doctor

The critical information you need to get when you see a doctor for weight loss

see a doctor for weight loss
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If you are ready to see a doctor for weight loss, you need to go to your appointment prepared. There are several critical weight loss questions you need to ask. You may want to talk to your doctor about weight loss medication, about the risks of different weight loss programs and about the benefits of losing weight. Your physician will be able to give you answers that take your personal health history into account.

 

The Best Doctor for Weight Loss

Before you make an appointment, you might wonder about what kind of doctor to see about losing weight. There are probably dozens of weight loss doctors in your area and many of them may be connected to a diet program or service. Eventually, these doctors may be able to help.

But when you are starting a weight loss program, you should see your primary care doctor first. Why? Because even though your doctor may not be an expert in weight loss, your primary care doctor is an expert in your medical history. Your regular doctor can address general questions about weight loss and give you personalized answers based on your own health history and medical conditions.

If your doctor is not able to answer specific questions about popular diet programs, exercise routines or about weight loss medications, he or she can refer you to the best expert in your area.

Weight Loss Questions to Ask Your Doctor

When you first see your doctor for 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.
     
  1. 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.
     
  2. 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.
     
  3. 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.
     
  4. 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.
     
  5. Can I take a weight loss medication? You can talk to your doctor about weight loss medication if you are significantly overweight and if you have tried other weight loss methods without success. Before you talk to your doctor about diet pills you should be prepared to explain the different diet programs you've tried. Many diet medications have side effects. Your doctor will probably want you to try safer, more common methods of weight loss before you go on medication.
     
  1. 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. 
     

  2. 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.
     
  3. 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.
     
  4. 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.
     
  5. 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.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Losing Weight. Questions for the Doctor. Healthfinder.gov http://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/obesity/losing-weight-questions-for-the-doctor Accessed: November 13, 2015.

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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