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DISCUSS: Weight history and goals

Start the conversation

Below are some examples of how your weight management could start:

"If we can review your previous test results for a moment, I think it may be beneficial to discuss how improving your health and losing weight would benefit some of these results in the future."

"Carrying excess weight can be a cause of some of your health concerns. Can we discuss how losing weight can improve your health?"

Explain that obesity is not your patient’s fault. When discussing obesity with your patient, it is important you help them understand that body weight is influenced by many different factors, including genetics, environment and hormones, and that’s why losing weight and maintaining weight loss may be challenging for people living with obesity.1,2

Take weight history

During your weight management discussion, consider taking your patient’s weight history to understand any potential triggers for their weight gain, their weight loss attempts to date and to discuss any challenges they encountered.

Below are some examples of questions, which could help to initiate your weight history discussion with your patient:

"Do you feel as if your weight has been an issue in the past? For how long?"

"Tell me about your efforts with trying to lose weight in the past"

Infographic showing a lifeline chart.

Set realistic and attainable goals

Once you have a good understanding of the patient’s weight journey so far, you can progress to discussing and setting goals together. Below are some examples of questions, which could support the conversation on goal setting with your patient:

"What are some reasonable goals you could set regarding your weight?"

"What kind of changes would you be willing to start with?"

Start by eliciting what your patient’s goals are. By doing this, you can help them to determine realistic and achievable targets. Consider the following:

  • Short-term goals
  • Long-term goals

Next, together with your patient, explore how they will be able to achieve these goals. The steps should be measurable and build on each other over time.

Lastly, set realistic dates for when your patient will aim to achieve both their short- and longterm goals, and importantly, set expectations that obesity management is a long-term process.3

For more information and talking points, download the 5 steps on obesity resource, a guide to discussing weight with your patients


1.     Wright SM and Aronne LJ. Causes of obesity. Abdominal Imaging. 2012;37:730–732.

2.     National Institutes of Health. Clinical Guidelines On The Identification, Evaluation, And Treatment Of Overweight And Obesity In Adults. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.pdf. Last accessed: October 2020.

3.     Vallis M, Piccinini-Vallis H, Sharma A, et al. Modified 5As. Can Fam Physician. 2013;59:27–31.

HQ22OB00034, Approval date: February 2022

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