How to Productively Talk about Weight and Health with a Loved One


If you have a loved one in your life who is struggling with excess weight and/or obesity, you might be wondering how to have a conversation about weight in a productive, respectful way. As most of us know, weight can be a very sensitive topic. Obesity is so often looked down upon in the media, in healthcare, in workplaces and in everyday life. This makes navigating the journey to improved health so much more difficult, and having a caring loved one makes a big difference.

Simple Tips for Starting the Conversation with a Loved One

If you are concerned about a loved one’s health as it relates to their weight, you should first be aware of any boundaries. Only you know how far you can dive into a person’s life. Start the conversation with extra sensitivity so you can detect any discomfort on their end. Are they nervous? Stressed? Are they expressing feelings of guilt or shame, or trying to avoid the topic altogether? These are factors you will have to judge by approaching the topic slowly and sensitively. Pay attention to how they are interpreting the conversation.

Also remember to approach your loved on in a truthful and honest way. Let them know that you are bringing the topic up because you want them to be healthy and happy, not because you think they should look a certain way. Emphasize that you care about them no matter their size.

Navigating the Conversation with Care as it Continues

If your loved one is willing to have the conversation about weight and health, that’s a good thing! Their response also shows that you were kind, caring and respectful. Now you must follow-through by continuing the conversation, whether it’s during the same chat or sometime later on.

The most important thing you can do is show support – not only verbally, but also in your actions. Let them know you’re here for them. However, you should be prepared to go all the way. Don’t just stop at “You can always give me a call if you need help” or “Remember, you’ve got this!” Go further than that. Attend a support group with them or accompany them to a healthcare appointment. Show them the extent to which you care. It will mean a lot.

It’s also important to let your loved one lead the way in their personal health journey. Don’t go recommending specific weight-loss treatments or diet plans unless they have asked you for that kind of help specifically. Instead, sit down with them to talk about their options. Offer information and resources they can use to take charge of their health. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), creators of the Your Weight Matters Campaign, has a variety of different resources they can use for research. Be a wealth of knowledge but let them choose their path.

Final Thoughts

The journey with weight can be difficult to talk about and navigate because it’s often considered a taboo subject. The best thing you can do is stay sensitive, emphasize health and be an unmovable source of support. Your loved one will let you know what they are comfortable talking about and how far they are willing to take the conversation. Be gentle, be kind, and most of all… be patient. Such a conversation and journey will likely take time and a lot of effort. Remember, that’s okay.

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