How Doctors Help Promote A Healthy Lifestyle

By Jo Arazi

Doctors know first hand how several people are battling with health-related issues due to poor lifestyle choices. One such problem is obesity and in the past 20 years, it has skyrocketed to alarming proportions.

It is quite shocking that a third of the US population is considered overweight, which is about 35% of every American. Being at the risk of several obesity-related diseases, the importance of doctors in promoting a healthy lifestyle cannot be overstated.

Common knowledge, together with tested and proven evidence, has shown that healthy habits – reducing stress, eating balanced diet, and exercising – prevent weight gain, promote weight loss and improve overall health.

There are several barriers that prevent doctors from talking to patients about their lifestyle choices. For most people, weight is a very sensitive topic and they may be reluctant to talk about it. It is so bad some doctors are not confident to engage their patients on this topic but it has to be done.

Here are some tips for doctors to help patients promote a healthy lifestyle:

Screen patients: it is important to establish a dialogue about a patient’s weight, or else you can’t start talking about healthy habits. Start by calculating BMI. Let the patient know what it means.

Don’t appear judgemental: Say something short and straightforward. Make sure it conveys your concern about their weight, cholesterol or blood sugar (whatever the problem is). Be factual but appear compassionate, be direct but don’t come across as judgemental.

Refer your patients to dieticians: as a doctor, educate yourself on nutrition and how it can be passed across in a way your patients will understand and apply it. Build relationships with other dietitians and refer your patients to them.

Be a good role model: patients are likely to take you advice as a doctor when they see you practicing healthy behaviors. In discussions, draw examples from your own experience.