How can a doctor help me lose weight?

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Jason B. Bergman, MD
Family Medicine
Your doctor can help identify the reasons for your excess weight and determine if they can be reversed. Certain medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, can lead to weight gain. 

Your doctor can suggest diet and lifestyle changes and prescribe medications if needed. They should also be able to recognize if you are an appropriate candidate for weight loss surgery. Surgery is usually only done for people who need significant weight loss. For example, those with a BMI of 35 or more with one obesity-related disease or a BMI of 40 or more with no risk factors are usually candidates for weight-loss surgery.

Weight bias, the negative attitude towards a person struggling with overweight or obesity, exists everywhere. If you can’t talk to your doctor about your weight loss journey, The American Board of Obesity Medicine can direct you to a board-certified obesity specialist who can help with medical weight loss. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons is another good place to find a surgeon to help with weight loss.
Many of us would love to lose weight to look and feel better, but also to help us avoid conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Working with your doctor is a great first step, no matter what your weight. Your doctor can help determine how overweight you are, can examine your habits and give you very specific advice on what things to change. In some cases, when your health is at risk because of the weight, your doctor can offer you a variety of medications that can at least make losing weight in the short term easier and faster.

Because there are no safe medications for long-term sustained weight loss, it’s great to have a doctor as a partner to work with on lifestyle issues. A doctor can work with you to develop a plan for lasting changes in what you eat and your activity level.
Your doctor has several methods to help you in your weight loss journey. Usually you will be interviewed about your typical diet and exercise patterns. You may be asked to fill out a diet and exercise log as well. Your doctor can review these and offer advice to optimize weight loss; he or she may also recommend a daily caloric limit based on your height, weight and weight loss goals. For patients who do not succeed in losing weight with diet and exercise, weight loss medications or surgeries may be discussed.
Your family doctor can be an excellent source for tips on eating well, safe ways to lose weight and many other health topics. Family medicine is a specialty devoted to providing comprehensive healthcare to people of all ages, newborn to the elderly, and both genders.
Your family doctor can offer a broad range of knowledge about general medicine and give you advice about eating a nutritious diet, exercising, and many other strategies for staying healthy and fit.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.