Feature Article

Lifestyle approaches to obesity: making it a less weighty issue

Alice A Gibson, Janet L Franklin, Kyra A Sim, Stephanie R Partridge, Ian D Caterson



Most of us eat several times a day, most days of our lives. In our modern environment, food is plentiful, energy-dense, highly visible, convenient and a major part of our social lives. In contrast, being physically active is a choice and not a necessity for survival. It is therefore not surprising that it is hard for people to lose weight and keep that weight off.

Key Points

  • The motivating reason for patients (especially young people) to lose weight is related to lifestyle issues rather than health reasons.
  • The most important factor determining the success of any weight loss attempt is the ability to adhere in the long term to the new lifestyle changes.
  • A quick and practical approach to offering dietary advice is to think quality (eating more for less kilojoules by choosing healthier food options) and quantity (applying caution with portions).
  • Simply telling patients they need to eat less and move more is unlikely to be effective. They need help to do this – it takes ‘skill power’, not just ‘will power’ to lose weight.
  • Taking a detailed weight history and representing this visually is a useful starting point for providing individualised advice that is more likely to resonate with the patient.