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Talking with patients about obesity

Discover tips and resources on how to approach obesity management with patients in a respectful and empathetic way 

How to raise the topic of obesity management with patients?

An effective obesity management plan starts with skillful and empathetic communication between physician and patient. By speaking with patients respectfully and working with them as partners, you can play a key role in helping them improve their health.1

A series of short films demonstrate a patient-centered counselling approach to address the topic of obesity management in clinical practice. Obesity medicine specialist, Dr. Michael Crotty describes common obesity conversation scenarios and employs the simple ‘Ask-Listen-Summarise-Inform/invite’ approach to engage in effective dialogue with people living with obesity.[i]

What is the ‘Ask-Listen-Summarise-Inform/invite’ approach?

  • Ask- bring up the subject with your patient 
  • Listen – give the patient the right amount of space to talk and share the journey so far
  • Summarise – confirm with your patient that you understand what have been told
  • Inform and Invite – provide guidance, chat through treatment options and put next steps in place

Learn how to open and structure the conversation toward an effective obesity management plan

Video overview

Internalised stigma and bias

Patient voice: ‘I’ve tried it all!’

How to address the PwO’s biases or stigma around obesity, using evidence to help them think about it in a different way.

Best weight

Patient voice: "What’s a good goal for me?"

How to introduce "best weight" to PwO to reframe their expectations from "losing weight" to "gaining health".

Surprising Science

Patient voice: "People have had great results with this diet and exercise plan…"

How to help PwO challenge "eat less, move more" to form a healthier relationship with food and physical activity.


Patient voice: "I don't want to feel the way I do right now…"

How to help PwO make decisions aligned with their values, working in line with what matters most to them.

Understanding cravings

Patient voice: "I’m not seeing any progress…"

How to help PwO recognise and make the best decisions in the face of cravings.

Overcoming cravings

Patient voice: "Sometimes I can't stop myself"

How to help PwO capture and challenge permission thoughts and create new restraint thoughts to better handle their cravings.


Patient voice: "It’s all too much!"

How to help PwO identify and manage the inevitable obstacles they will face as part of their journey.


Patient voice: "Sometimes it just makes me think, what’s the point?"

How to guide PwO to be resilient on their weight management plan, understanding that setbacks are all part of the process.

  1. Vallis TM, Macklin D, Russell-Mayhew S. Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines: Effective Psychological and Behavioural Interventions in Obesity Management. Available at: https://obesitycanada.ca/guidelines/behavioural. Last accessed: June 2022.

HQ22OB00155, Approval date September 2022

[i] Disclaimer note: Videos are scripted and played by actors – fictional patients have a BMI of >27 and are classified as being as overweight.

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