How your GP can help you lose weight 2023

If you have tried and failed to lose weight, a visit to your GP surgery may help.

Your GP or practice nurse can:

Assess your general health.
Help identify the cause of your weight gain.
If you have any health problems due to weight gain, exercise.
Discuss a plan to help you lose weight that works for you.

Assessing your weight
Firstly, your GP or practice nurse will want to assess whether your current weight is healthy. This means measuring your weight and height to calculate your body mass index (BMI).

You can also measure your waist. Measuring your waistline is a good way to check that you’re not carrying too much fat around your belly, which can increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

You can have a healthy BMI and still have a lot of belly fat – meaning you’re still at risk for these diseases.

Your GP may take your blood pressure and do other tests, such as blood tests, to check for any health conditions that may be related to your weight.

You can also check your BMI using our BMI calculator.

Diet and exercise
If you are overweight, making changes to your diet and physical activity level are the first steps to help you lose weight.

Your GP or practice nurse can help you assess your current diet and physical activity levels and set personal goals for change.

Your diet
You may be asked to keep a food diary – a written record of what you eat – for 1 week.

This can help you and your GP identify habits, such as adding sugar to your tea, that you can change.

Your physical activity level can be measured with an activity diary.

Your GP may also suggest that you wear a pedometer for a week. A pedometer measures the number of steps you take and gives an indication of your daily activity level.

Set personal goals.
Once your GP or practice nurse has a clear picture of your diet and physical activity levels, they can help you identify simple lifestyle changes.

Together, you’ll create a game plan for healthy, long-term weight loss. It will be a plan according to your lifestyle and your preferences.

Your GP surgery offers you regular follow-up appointments, usually every 2 weeks to a month, to monitor your progress.

More Weight Loss Resources:

NHS Weight Loss Plan
Plan to run the Couch to 5K
Other weight loss services
Your GP surgery can refer you to other services, such as local weight loss groups. These may be provided by the NHS, or may be commercial services that you pay for.

If it is appropriate, you may be referred for exercise classes under the supervision of a qualified trainer.

Depending on where you live, exercise programs may be offered for free or at a reduced cost.

Weight loss drugs
If you’ve made changes to your diet and physical activity levels but you’re not losing enough weight, your GP may prescribe medicines that can help.

The drugs are only used if your BMI is at least 30, or 28 if you have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

Orlistat is the only drug recommended for weight loss. For more information on weight loss medication, see Obesity: Treatment.

Weight loss surgery
If lifestyle changes and medication don’t work, your GP may talk to you about weight loss surgery.

Weight loss surgery is usually only recommended for people with a BMI of at least 40, or 35 if you have a weight-related health condition, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

Weight loss surgery can be effective but is a major procedure that comes with its own health risks.

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