How do I have a conversation with a patient about their weight?

Did you know 2 out of 3 Australian’s live with overweight or obesity and that 2 out of 3 of these Australian’s would like their health practitioner to initiate a conversation about weight? In such a conversation, general practitioners (GP’s) can use words and phrases that engage patients in weight loss interventions, even in the context of a brief, opportunistic consultation.


But, how do you sensitively introduce this topic? Evidence suggests that weight loss interventions happen much less frequently than they should because of concerns doctors have about their training to discuss the topic, concerns about the availability of effective treatment options, uncertainty about appropriate language, concerns about patient readiness and mental health, and a lack of time.

At Deakin, medical students explore reasons why the causes of overweight and obesity need a response at a population level as well as an individual level and learn how to avoid weight bias when interacting with patients. For practicing GPs and others, the Cancer Council Victoria has developed a 60-minute online training module, ‘Talking to patients about health and weight’, to help health practitioners engage in sensitive, patient-centred conversations about health and weight using evidence-based information and support and build knowledge and skills to deliver brief weight management interventions.

For those interested in ending weight stigma, check out the joint international consensus statement for ending stigma of obesity.



This post was written by Robyn Perlstein and Colin Bell

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