Should you tell a loved one they need to lose weight?

Is speaking out about this very sensitive issue the best thing you can do for a loved one?

23 November 2016
by Chisanga Mukuka

According to the World Health Organisation’s most recent findings, a staggering 53,9% of South Africa’s adult population is overweight. These statistics mean that it’s very likely that someone close to you falls into this category. 

For concerned friends and family, the prospect of speaking to a loved one about their weight and how it’s impacting their health adversely can be a daunting one. But if you’re wondering whether it’s worth addressing it, the answer is always yes. “When we love someone and our intentions are good then it’s important to be honest and supportive,” explains Rakhi Beekrum, a Durban-based psychologist. “Extremes of weight can lead to serious medical complications, so it’s essential that we don't turn a blind eye to a loved one's weight issues.” 

Diabetes, heart disease and cancer are some of the conditions that can result from an unhealthy weight, making addressing the issue as soon as possible a priority. But how do you go about it without potentially ruining your relationship with your sibling, parent or friend?

Be sensitive

Although they may not have said anything to you, it’s possible that your loved one has tried to deal with their weight problems. They may also have underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or depression that make losing weight difficult. For these reasons, you should approach the topic with sensitivity.

“Ensure firstly that you have a warm, safe relationship with the person before addressing your concerns,” advises Beekrum. “Express why you’re concerned. Use factual language. Don’t use words such as 'fat' or 'obese'. You might also want to offer possible solutions to the problem.”

Bear in mind that your well-meant intervention could have adverse effects. “There’s always the danger that your comments won’t be received in the manner that they were intended and may lead to low self-esteem, problems with body image and, in extreme cases, eating disorders,” Beekrum warns.

One way of speaking to someone who might be very sensitive about the issue is to consult a medical professional. “For example, some people are more likely to take a physician seriously regarding the impact of obesity on diabetes as opposed to a spouse without a professional background,” says Beekrum.

Support their weight-loss efforts

Once you’ve had the dreaded conversation, you can continue showing your concern and support by helping your friend or loved one take control of their weight. 

According to Beekrum, the best way is always to be part of the solution, and she suggests exercising or playing sports together, adopting healthy eating for the whole family, or, in the case of a colleague, getting the office involved in supporting each other with healthy lunches. “If there are any medical conditions, see a doctor and dietician who can suggest the best possible meal plans,” suggests Beekrum.

How Clicks Clinics can help you

Clicks Clinics will help you manage your weight loss and identify and manage your risk of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes with their wide range of screening tests and health assessments.

These include:

  • Glucose Screening with Consultation
  • Urine Test (tests for blood, protein and glucose)
  • Blood Pressure Test
  • Cholesterol Testing and Consultation
  • Lipogram Blood Test (to determine different types of cholesterol)
  • Foot Screening Consultation (to check for diabetes-related foot problems)
  • Clicks Full Basic Screening (BP, Body Mass Index or BMI, meal guide and exercise plan)
  • Clicks Screening Measurements only (BP and BMI)
  • Clicks Comprehensive Screening (BP, BMI, Glucose and Cholesterol screening, plus meal and exercise plan).
  • Total Lean Lifestyle Programme

To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or book online at Clicks Clinics.

IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images