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Obesity is a serious, costly and all too common problem in Canada. About 5.3 million Canadians are obese—this equates to a worrisome one in five adults. Obesity-related conditions, such as stroke, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and certain cancers, are some of the leading causes of preventable death in Canada. What’s more, obesity costs our healthcare system an alarming $6 billion each year.

As healthcare providers, you’re likely familiar with the current state of obesity in Canada. You may also be your patients’ number-one supporter when it comes to encouraging weight loss efforts. Help your patients meet their goals by sharing these tips for weight loss success:

  • Support: WebMD® recommends weight loss plans with lots of interaction and support. Whether it comes from family and friends or through a weight loss program, a support system can provide patients with advice, motivation, accountability and encouragement.

Hospitals and clinics offering structured weight loss programs should schedule regular meetings—the recommendation is to meet at least 14 times over a six-month period. Be sure to promote any program offerings, dates and times via email, social media and direct mail. You may also want to distribute stretch bands and cool-down scarves with program information.

  • Diet: A healthy, well-balanced diet is not only key to weight loss success, it also increases energy and improves mood. If patients wish to start a diet plan, advise them to steer clear of fads and opt instead for a scientifically-backed approach. A survey of physicians, clinicians, dieticians and nurse practitioners revealed a list of recommended commercial diets from the following programs: Weight Watchers®, South Beach Diet®, Dash for Health®, Jenny Craig® and Nutrisystem®. Consider sharing these recommendations or others with your patients by imprinting them on a Portion Plate or Portion Bowl.
  • Exercise: Health Canada recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise each week. Remind patients that it doesn’t all need to be done at once. A brisk, 30-minute walk a few days a week coupled with two days of strength training will get the job done. Recommend patients plan their activities a week in advance and keep track of progress. A day planner or wellness journal can help track planned versus actual activities, dates and durations.
  • Behaviour: Behaviour change is one of the biggest indicators of success when it comes to weight loss. After all, without modifying their diet, exercise and lifestyle, patients end up right back where they started. Success starts with setting reasonable goals, monitoring progress, changing false beliefs and checking in regularly with support systems and healthcare providers.Encourage two-way communication with your patients by scheduling check-ins between appointments—online chats and email are convenient ways to communicate. Provide contact information and hours for your nurse line or other healthcare lines on a magnet or clip for easy access.

Remember, weight loss can be a challenging task for patients. With a little support and some proven guidelines, change is possible. Share these tips for weight loss success with your patients to help them move toward a newer, healthier version of themselves.

Canadian Community Health Survey, 2014.Statistics Canada. 06 June 2015. Web. Retrieved 26 Apr. 2016.

Obesity in Canada.” Canadian Obesity Network. N.d. Web. Retrieved 26 Apr. 2016.

Carbonell, Diane. “Importance of a Healthy Support System in Weight Loss.” Diane Carbonell Weight Loss Expert. N.p., 09 Sept. 2011. Web. Retrieved 09 Apr. 2016.

Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 21 Sept. 2015. Web. Retrieved 09 Apr. 2016.

Doctors Reveal Their Most Recommended Weight-Loss Programs.” EverydayHealth.com. N.p., 14 May 2014. Web. Retrieved 09 Apr. 2016.

How much physical activity do adults need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 04 June 2015. Web. Retrieved 09 Apr. 2016.

Family Influence-A Major Contributory Cause to Obesity.” American Obesity Treatment Association. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 09 Apr. 2016.

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