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Baseline questions for weight discussions

After getting permission to discuss weight, ask questions that will establish a baseline from which future progress can be measured. Patient responses to baseline questions will help you assess your patient’s ideas, concerns, and expectations.1

You may also begin to see discrepancies between your patient’s habits and his or her personal goals. See Motivational Interviewing or “Guide to Motivational Interviewing” in the Rethink Obesity® education booklet.

Once you have asked the questions provided, summarize what your patient has told you about how excess weight is affecting his or her life.

Some examples of baseline questions

  • How is your weight affecting you medically?
  • How is your weight affecting you physically (pain, fatigue)?
  • How is your weight affecting you functionally? Are there things you can’t do because of your weight?
  • How is your weight affecting you emotionally?
  • List the top 3 reasons why you’d like to lose weight.
  • Have you ever discussed your weight with a health care professional in the past?
  • Why or why not?


  • If I’m hearing you correctly, you are concerned with how your weight is affecting your health and your life and that you would like to lose weight, but you are not sure you are ready to take action. Is that correct? 

Also in Talking With Patients:


Related Information

The Weight Conversation

This video provides tips on productive discussions about 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.