Health libraryBack to health library
Get help with a weight-loss goal
Jan. 2, 2023—Looking to shed some unwanted pounds this year? You don't have to go it alone. It might make sense to get your doctor's help.
To help you tip the scales in your favor for good, your doctor may, for example:
Help you set a healthy weight-loss goal. You need to know what's a healthy weight for you. One way to tell? By checking your body mass index (BMI), a measure of your current weight in relation to your height. The higher your BMI, the likelier you are to have weight-related health problems. If your BMI is high, shedding even just 5% to 10% of your weight to start with could boost your health. But BMI isn't the whole picture. Your doctor can help you understand how your weight might affect your overall health—and what you can do to improve it.
Guide you to healthy changes. Your doctor can advise you on changes you can make in your daily life to help you start to shed pounds. This may include helping you understand what types and amounts of exercise are safe for you, as well as how to improve your eating habits.
Answer your questions about popular diets and fads. Some diet plans promise to help you lose weight quickly. But losing weight quickly can put your health at risk, and the pounds that come off quickly may not stay off. Weight control is a marathon, not a sprint. Losing about 1 to 2 pounds per week is just about right for most adults.
Refer you to weight-loss specialists. For example, doctors may refer their patients who want to lose weight to a registered dietitian who can teach them how to plan meals, shop for groceries and cook in healthy ways.
Recommend weight-loss programs or treatments. If you've had trouble losing weight by changing your eating and exercise habits, your doctor may suggest other options, depending on your individual history and health needs. Those might include:
- A medically supervised weight-loss program. The best weight-loss programs help you lose weight safely through healthy behaviors that you can maintain over time, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports. Get tips for evaluating weight-loss diets and programs.
- Prescription weight-loss medicines. Medicines for weight loss work in different ways. For example, some curb hunger or help people feel full faster, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
- Weight-loss surgery (also called bariatric surgery) may be an option for people who meet certain conditions, such as those who have a high BMI and weight-related health conditions.
Wondering if it's time to ask about bariatric surgery? This assessment can help you start the conversation.
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Prescription Weight-loss Medicines." https://familydoctor.org/prescription-weight-loss-medicines/.
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Surgery for Obesity." https://familydoctor.org/surgical-treatment-obesity/.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "10 Reasons to See an RDN." https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthful-habits/10-reasons-to-see-an-rdn.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Choosing a Safe & Successful Weight-loss Program." https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/choosing-a-safe-successful-weight-loss-program.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Treatment for Overweight & Obesity." https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/treatment.