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Advising on health risks and excess weight

To balance the discussion of health risks associated with excess weight, consider advising your patient on how even modest, sustained weight loss of 5% to 10% can improve his or her health and reduce risks of comorbidities.1

Following the discussion outlined below, explain that the next step is to ask questions that focus on how your patient’s weight has changed in the past and that this can help to formulate a plan for weight management. See the next section, Weight history.

Some talking points and questions

  • Do you have any questions about what it means to have a high BMI?
    • BMI is a measurement that helps determine if a person is carrying excess weight for his or her height.2 BMI isn’t a complete measure of health, so we look at other measures like waist circumference, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels that indicate what should be addressed about your health.1
  • Because your BMI is high, I am also concerned about the associated health risks3
  • Weight loss of as little as 5% of your body weight can improve your health and reduce your risks4
  • Achieving 5% weight loss is a process that begins with making a few specific lifestyle changes to your eating habits, increasing your physical activity, and discussing other treatment options3
  • I can support you in your efforts to improve your health and lose weight. Is that something you would like? 

Also in Talking With Patients:


Related Information

Patient Materials

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

Professional Education

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


  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.
  2. Kushner RF. Roadmaps for Clinical Practice: Case Studies in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion—Assessment and Management of Adult Obesity: A Primer for Physicians. Booklet 2: Evaluating your patients for overweight or obesity. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association, 2003.
  3. Kushner RF. Clinical assessment and management of adult obesity. Circulation. 2012;126(24):2870-2877.
  4. Seagle HM, Strain GW, Makris A, Reeves RS. Position of the American Dietetic Association: weight management. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Feb;109(2):330-346.