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Goal Setting for Weight Management

Use the Goal Setting handout and the discussion topics below to create SMART goals with your patients: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely.1

When you are finished discussing the goals, consider establishing a follow-up plan for future appointments.


Guide patients to set specific goals for changes to behaviors or habits for healthy eating, activity levels, or weight loss.

  • What are some healthy eating habits that you feel you can start doing?
  • What are some activities that you would like to start?
  • Can you begin 1 or 2 of these before our next visit?


Ask how they will measure their progress toward achievement or know when they have achieved their goals.

  • What is the best way for you to track your new habits or progress toward your goal?


Discuss how confident they feel about achieving their goal. This is a chance for a reality check to revise the goal if patients don’t feel confident that the goal is achievable.

  • Do you feel confident that this is an achievable goal?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “not at all confident” and 10 being “completely confident,” how confident are you that you can achieve this goal?


Ask about how initial goals are relevant to their big-picture goals.

  • Why is this behavioral goal relevant or important to your overall plan?


Place a relatively short time frame on the initial goals and revisit whether they are achievable in that time frame.

  • When will you begin?

Also in Talking With Patients:


Related Information

Professional Education

Learn techniques that will enable you to have an effective consultation around weight with your patients.

Patient Materials

Explore materials to help get your patients started with weight management.


  1. Vallis M, Piccinini-Vallis H, Sharma AM, Freedhoff Y. Modified 5 As: Minimal intervention for obesity counseling in primary care. Can Fam Physician. 2013;59:27-31.