Having the Weight Talk

Have you ever tried to talk to a loved one about his/her weight? Whether you have or haven't, it's not an easy conversation. After all, overweight and obese loved ones all know they're overweight or obese, so the talk can be awkward and result in hurt feelings, especially if handled incorrectly. The most important thing to remember is to focus your concerns on their health, not their weight.

The Approach

How do you approach a close friend or loved one about weight and health issue? You do it thoughtfully and carefully.

First, keep in mind that you’re about to tell this person something they likely already know. Second, you’re about to discuss a very personal and private issue. Lastly, they’ve most likely tried to lose the weight and have not succeeded, which has left your friend dejected and frustrated.

Before you start the conversation, ask yourself:

  • Have you had this conversation before?
  • If so, what was the reaction?
  • Can you be sure that you’re not going to come off as condescending or as a know it all?

The answers can help you determine how to approach your friend. It’s also important to take other aspects of the conversation into consideration. For instance, you probably wouldn’t want to talk about someone’s weight over a meal or around other friends or family.

Before you approach your loved one, imagine how you would feel if the situation were reversed. Would you appreciate a friend’s advice or would you find it intrusive or uncomfortable? Treat your friend as you would want to be treated. Let your loved one know that this is coming from a place of concern not judgement and that you will be as helpful as possible. Above all, remember that only your loved one or friend can make the final decision. No diet, exercise routine, or program is going to help if they don’t choose to help themselves. Your goal is to get you friend to help himself.

Talk Tips

Know the Boundaries

Be extra sensitive so that you can detect even the slightest feeling of your loved one being uncomfortable and stop the conversation.

Approach Person in a Truthful Way

Tell your friend how much you care. Emphasize that this about health not appearance. Tell your loved one that you just want him/her around for as long as possible.

Provide Information Not Diet Suggestions

Use the Internet or your library to research the benefits of weight loss and provide your loved one with the tools needed to take action. Visit websites together or volunteer to go to a doctor's appointment where he/she can discuss weight with a physician.

Be Supportive

Be prepared to go the extra mile. Don’t stop at, “I’m here for you,” or “if you need anything call me.” Go further. Tell them that you have wanted to get in shape, too, or that you need and want to eat healthier as well.

Never Suggest a Diet

Look into options after you’ve broached the subject. If you suggest something and it doesn’t work, you most likely have set yourself up to be blamed for any failure. Encourage your loved one to talk to a physician and work with the doctor to develop a weight-loss program.